Read AI Raises $ 10 Million, Creates Virtual Meeting Dashboard to Show You When You Talk Too Much – TechCrunch


Meetings can take place in two ways… either be productive or be ineffective. Read AI wants everyone in the meeting to be engaged and feel productive, and it has developed a real-time shared dashboard to alert meeting participants when things are going well or not so well.

The Seattle-based company exited stealth mode on Wednesday with its first funding, a $ 10 million funding round, led by Madrona Venture Group, and joined by PSL Ventures and a group of angel investors, including the former member. from the board of Placed, David Joerg, the CEO of Verishop, Imran. Khan, AI2 CEO Oren Etzioni, Qumulo CEO Bill Richter, Wunderman CEO Shane Atchison, Divvy Founder Brian Ma, Snapchat VP of Products Peter Sellis and Snapchat VP of Engineering Nima Khajehnouri.

Read was co-founded in May by a team that has known each other for 20 years: CEO David Shim, former CEO of Foursquare, VP of Engineering Rob Williams and VP of Data Science. Elliott Waldron. The trio previously worked together at the Placed location analysis startup, where Shim was also CEO. The company was acquired by Snapchat in 2017 and transformed into Foursquare in 2019.

Read the dashboard

The company’s first product, Read Dashboard, is a virtual meeting dashboard that leverages artificial intelligence, computer vision, and natural language processing to measure participant engagement, performance, and sentiment.

“Reading the dashboard is like ‘Waze for Meetings’,” Shim told TechCrunch. “We want to facilitate collaboration, so that gives you insight into how the meeting was going. “

Instead of checking each two-inch video box to read a participant’s emotions, Read provides real-time graphs and counters that show whether one or more people are dominating the conversation, whether people seem bored, or not. pay attention or if people seem happy or sad about what is being said. For example, on a sales call, Read can show if what is being said is rapidly changing negatively so you can either stop talking or move on to another topic, Shim said.

Currently, the dashboard is available as a free service on Zoom through the Google Calendar integration. It notifies participants when activated and can also be deleted. As different use cases are supported, additional features will be added and accessible for a fee, he added.

As part of the investment, Matt McIlwain, Managing Director of Madrona Venture Group, joins Read’s board of directors.

McIlwain also worked with Shim when they were both at Farecast, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2008. They kept in touch and McIlwain was also a seed investor in Placed.

He sees Shim as someone who “has a sense of transparency and creating valuable products for all constituents”. With Placed and Foursquare, McIlwain said he could see that Shim was “very eager to make an impact and make a difference for the world.”

Now with Real, he says the co-founder’s team have complementary skills and are building something that will live on now that companies operate in a digital world where it will be important to know if someone is not engaged enough, talks too much. or not enough, he added.

Meanwhile, Read decided to seek seed funding for several reasons: First, the global videoconferencing market is big – valued at $ 4.2 billion in 2020 – and two, the company is seeing massive adoption, Shim said. He also sees additional use cases like the weekly stand-ups where it was difficult to get a good read on people because there are so many of them on the video.

“We could have gone slower and built over a few years, but we could see the need right now,” he added. “Half of all meetings are considered unproductive. We used to spend 30 or 60 minutes in meetings, and now it’s hours a day in virtual conferences. “

In less than five months Read grew to 15 employees, which Shim said was a different experience at Placed, where it took 15 months to reach the same milestone.

The new funding will be used to add even more staff. The company will also add platforms in the future, such as WebEx, Teams, and Google Meet. It will also ultimately provide integrations with other areas of the digital world, including Facebook and Apply Glass, Shim said.

“There is a huge opportunity for someone to get clues,” he added. “The more we can facilitate the ability to help people with social cues, the better the interactions will be.”

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