Vidyard rolls out AI avatars after securing funding from EDC and existing backers

Vidyard co-founder and CEO Michael Litt's AI avatar.
With AI Avatars, Vidyard aims to facilitate “personalized video communications at scale.”

To fuel its product and artificial intelligence (AI) development efforts, last summer, Kitchener-Waterloo-based Vidyard secured about $21 million CAD ($15 million USD) in financing led by Export Development Canada (EDC).

Vidyard COO Jonathan Lister told BetaKit that the previously unannounced funding, which closed in August of last year, has gone towards expanding its sales and marketing software—including layering in new AI capabilities—and positioning the scaleup for potential mergers and acquisitions (M&A).

Today, Vidyard has announced its entry into the AI avatar market, introducing an AI Avatars feature to its Messages platform. The company claims that AI Avatars will enable customers to quickly make high-quality, short-form videos starring AI-generated versions of themselves that look and sound like them, like this one of Vidyard co-founder and CEO Michael Litt.

“Vidyard AI Avatars are the answer to every sales and marketing professional’s dream—personalization at scale.”

Jonathan Lister, Vidyard

“Vidyard AI Avatars are the answer to every sales and marketing professional’s dream—personalization at scale—which has, as yet, been almost completely unrealized,” Lister argued.

Vidyard provides video messaging, hosting, prospecting, and engagement software to sales professionals and go-to-market teams. The firm’s clients include more than 250,000 companies, like Ceridian, HubSpot, LinkedIn, Marketo, Microsoft, S&P Global, and Salesforce.

In addition to its new AI Avatars feature, Vidyard’s other AI-powered products and tools include Vidyard Prospector and its AI Script Generator.

The company’s all-primary financing, which also saw participation from BMO Capital Partners and existing investors Battery Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Inovia Capital, brings Vidyard’s total funding to nearly $91 million USD. Lister said that the latest capital came in the form of an uncapped convertible note.

Vidyard last secured external capital in 2019, when it closed a $15-million credit facility from BMO’s Technology and Innovation Banking Group.

After COVID-19 “basically killed field selling,” demand rose for Vidyard’s solutions, which help facilitate virtual sales, Litt told BetaKit in a January 2023 interview. At the time, Litt claimed that Vidyard’s growth and “judicious” approach to spending during the pandemic and subsequent tech downturn has given the firm the financial flexibility and capacity to “invest heavily in product” and explore M&A opportunities.

RELATED: Vidyard sets sights on $1 billion in revenue as it bolsters go-to-market efforts

According to LinkedIn Insights, however, Vidyard’s headcount has fallen 27 percent over the past 12 months to 222 today, indicating that like many other Canadian tech firms, Vidyard may have laid off staff during this time.

When asked about this, Lister said, “Vidyard, like all other companies, continuously adjusts staffing levels in alignment with both global economic trends and its business priorities. The company does not share specifics with regard to personnel.”

Lately, some of Vidyard’s efforts on the product front have been focused on helping customers create video content more effectively, including through the use of AI, as it looks to remain competitive and take advantage of recent AI advances. According to Vidyard’s research, personalized videos lead to more meaningful interactions with clients and prospects. 

Now, with the launch of AI Avatars, which are powered by Vidyard’s text-to-video tech and available immediately as a paid addition to Vidyard’s Business Plan, Vidyard hopes to help its clients increase and improve outreach and reduce the time they spend recording and editing videos. “AI Avatars can enhance seller productivity by enabling them to deliver messages to their buyers at scale,” said Lister.

RELATED: Brim Financial closes $85-million Series C led by EDC to fund US expansion

“Vidyard is changing the game in how sales and marketing professionals do business and today’s announcement is yet another proof point in their international growth journey,” EDC senior vice president of mid-market, Guillermo Freire, told BetaKit. “By harnessing the cutting-edge capabilities of AI to craft lifelike avatars within its video messaging solutions, Vidyard is not just redefining sales interactions; they are humanizing digital connections.”

According to Lister, videos produced using Vidyard’s AI Avatars are not automatically marked as such: it is up to the user to specify that the video is AI-generated in their scripts or titles. 

Vidyard users can only create avatars of themselves—not other people—or select from stock avatars created by AI, Lister said. Each user owns their avatar and Vidyard retains no right to make use of them beyond providing this service, he added.

HubSpot vice president of platform ecosystem Scott Brinker expects AI Avatars to “address a lot of critical pain points for HubSpot users, including the stage fright associated with traditional video recording, the massive amount of time it takes to get them ‘right,’ the difficulty of finding the right place and time to do it, and the fact that it’s almost never their top priority.”

Feature image courtesy Vidyard.

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit reporter focused on telling in-depth Canadian tech stories and breaking news. His coverage is more complete than his moustache.

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