OpenAI- backed Language Learning App ‘Speak’ Raises $16M  To Expand To The U.S.

OpenAI is an AI deployment and research company backing the learning app ‘Speak’. With a mission to make sure that all humans are benefited by artificial intelligence, their popular AI chatbot ChatGPT has enjoyed a huge success fulfilling that mission. Today however, Speak, OpenAI’s Startup investment fund-backed app for English Language learning, announced that it was able to successfully raise $16 million total in Series B funding. Angel investor Lachy Groom led the funding round, and with the co-founder of Dropbox, Arash Ferdowsi and Drew Houston participating, Speak’s total amount raised reached an applaudable $63 million. This follows after Speak’s Series B raise of $27 million last November 2022.

Speak’s Chief Executive Officer, Connor Zwick stated that the money raised would go towards increasing its team, and moving into new international market lunches, including the U.S. by year end (2023), to offer English speakers the opportunity to learn new languages. This is possible because Speak’s learning experience has been shown to work with minimal modifications across different markets and cultures. At present, Speak is live in 20 countries, including Germany, France, Taiwan, Mexico, Japan, and Brazil.

Andrew Hsu and Connor Zwick founded Speak in 2016 after meeting through the Thiel Fellowship. Between them, the duo boasted skills in tech and neuroscience. Before they started Speak, both partners spent a year studying machine learning and developing algorithms to detect accents. YouTube videos were used as their training data.

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What The Learning App ‘Speak’ Is All About

After downloading Speak’s app on Android or iOS, users can practice speaking English by going through a group of interactional speaking exercises. An artificial intelligence tutor supervises open-ended interactions on a myriad of topics, and gives reviews on pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar; made possible by a synergy of OpenAI’s tech Speak’s unique language learning systems, pedagogical approach, and structure.

Despite steep competition from its fellow AI backed apps, the San- Francisco based Speak is rated one of the most downloaded applications in South Korea, as it launched there with 100,000 people subscribing first. This decision was taken because of South Korea’s mature and demanding market for English language products, and their success can be credited partially to their commitment to cheap language education, which differentiated them from competitors.

Lachy Groom’s belief that AI will continue to positively transform education, and his approval for Speak’s roadmap to allow learners access conversational practice with a tutor at a low cost, speaks volumes on his reasons for investing. According to Lachy, ‘the most effective approach to learning is through one-on-one human tutoring. As there are more learners than teachers at any given time, the type of solution isn’t cheap and doesn’t scale.”

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OpenAI’s investment helped Speak to harness access to their systems and the Azure resources of their collaborator, Microsoft, for new features. Such features led to various upgrades, such as Speak’s AI Tutor upgrade with GPT-4, OpenAI’s model for generating text in March, 2023, and their adoption of Whisper API, Whisper API, OpenAI’s model for recognizing multilingual speech. Using GPT-4 led to higher user engagement and contextual feedback for learners on the app. Speak also worked on new ChatGPT plugins with OpenAI, and this helped their first steps into teaching other languages apart from English. Apart from Speak, Duolingo also partnered with OpenAI for GPT-4.

Speak’s Selling Points

  • Their unique approach to language learning.
  • Their smart integration of OpenAI’s technology.
  • Their commitment to low-priced language education.
  • More sentences spoken per 20 minute session when compared with others.
  • The fact that they are the first and only app that allows learners get into real conversations without needing a human tutor.
  • Their amazing figures (0.1s latency, 100% real time, and 95% accuracy).
  • 66,510+ positive app store reviews
  • The company’s claims that it’s helped 3 million people; nearly 6% of Korea’s population to learn English.

With the support and funds from OpenAI, we would definitely see more growth for the learning app ‘Speak’, operational expansion, and a significant impact in the language education market. Speak’s brilliant use of AI tech, coupled with their dedication to low-priced language education are unique selling points for the brand. It is therefore not a stretch of imagination to believe that Speak’s innovative approach and smart collaborations showcases it as a foremost authority in the language learning sector, predicted to make a huge impact in the U.S. and other countries.

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