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Read AI Hits Go

10/12/2021

The Seattle-based meeting analysis tech company attracts $10 million in seed funding

Unproductive meetings are a waste of everyone’s time, and all this WFH Zoom fatigue isn’t helping to get stuff done as a group.

Enter Read AI, which acts “like a car dashboard for your meetings,” said CEO David Shim. In late September, the company announced it landed $10 million in seed funding, led by Madrona Venture Group and joined by PSL Ventures and a consortium of highly in-the-know angel investors, including Verishop CEO Imran Khan, Divvy founder Brian Ma, and others.

The company was founded in May by Shim and two colleagues, Rob Williams and Elliott Waldron, who originally met at airfare predictor, Farecast — the first Big Data application for consumer travel, which was acquired by Microsoft. The trio then formed the location analytics company, Placed, which was purchased by Snapchat in 2017 then acquired by Foursquare in 2019. Madrona was involved in all three companies, and now the band is back together. “It is great to be working with David Shim, whom we previously partnered with from the founding of Placed and from the early days of Farecast, and his team to build another compelling company,” said Matt McIlwain, Managing Director of Madrona Venture Group. “Having a proven team, that were early innovators in applied machine learning companies, working together again enables rapid product iterations and market learnings.”

Read’s signature product, Read Dashboard, logs into virtual meetings and assesses various metrics such as audience engagement (which Zoom used to do), sentiment, who’s dominating the conversation, and general meeting performance. “Read Dashboard simplifies the ability to ‘read the room’,” explained Shim. To do that, Read leverages natural language processing and computer vision models to power its meeting analytics in real time. Shim said the models were trained on an internationally and demographically diverse set of training examples, which should eliminate cultural bias and encourage collaboration and more productive meetings across time. Attendees who feel like Big Brother is watching them way too much can opt out, but the platform shows better results longitudinally if everyone participates.

The timing couldn’t be better: the global video conferencing market was valued at $4.2 billion in 2020, and it’s continuing to grow. The current round of funding will go toward adding more staff and, eventually, platforms like WebEx, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet. Anyone can get a taste of Read by signing up for a free demo on an upcoming Zoom call.

“The future of meeting analytics isn’t recordings and transcripts. Rather, it’s real time, understanding how the meeting is going and what are the moments that make or break an interaction,” Shim said.

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