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On Jan. 22, the day before the official start of Inman Connect New York, a company reached “unicorn” status for its work in voice-mimicking artificial intelligence.
ElevenLabs’ latest round of funding amounted to $80 million, and it had some heavy VC hitters stepping to the plate: Andreessen Horowitz, former GitHub CEO Nat Friedman and entrepreneur Daniel Gross, who sold a search engine to Apple in 2013.
The same day TechCrunch reported on ElevenLabs’ $1 billion milestone, I was sitting in a suite at the Midtown Hilton watching Ylopo, a known teams-oriented proptech company, demonstrate its own expertise in voice mimicry marketing. Surrounded by his team, company CEO Howard Tager was using our talk as a run-through for his upcoming presentation on AI at Broker Connect.
Pressed for time when the lights went up Wednesday morning, Tager didn’t say as much to his audience as he did to me, but they were privy to the same message. I hope they were paying attention.
I harp often about proptech needing to condense business processes to be truly effective, to really make change. You can’t merely digitize a workflow or worse, give agents and brokers merely another product for their due diligence. Thankfully, AI is going to do this for us.
Whether you like it or not.
Ylopo’s Raiya has been around for some time, getting smarter. The company used 2023, arguably a very slow year for new business, to help Raiya mature from a loquacious chatbot to a quasi-free-thinking inside sales rep with a penchant for power dialing. Now, it’s deployed as your competition.
The company is going deep into voice analysis, carefully examining the pauses, intonations and, of course, the words that make human speech such a powerful universal medium. Ylopo has even hired actors to lend voices to Raiya and is always on the lookout for intriguing people to record to lend random realism to their AI.
Raiya doesn’t stutter or get anxious or stymied. When it’s made an appropriate level of progress with a prospect, it conducts a live hand-off to a designated agent and updates the user’s CRM. It’s also getting used in traditional top-of-funnel lead conversion, starting with listing page traffic and leveraging chat-capture tactics to make appointments.
Inside Real Estate’s BoomTownPro does great work for its customers in farming existing databases, a drastically underutilized source of business, by the way. The company combines machine learning user behavior analysis with real people to cultivate leads and update databases. It’s proven effective for years, I know agents who love it.
Ylopo is doing much the same but with an entity that needs less hands-on training and no desk space. It doesn’t fear the frustrated call recipient and can listen and respond without emotion for trigger words. It is doing what technology should — shrinking the lead capture and conversion process.
I said at ICNY that AI isn’t going to replace agents, but it will replace a lot of what you do. Other speakers said something quite similar, including MIT-employed AI specialist and presidential technology advisor, Dr. R. David Edelman.
“Artificial intelligence isn’t going to take your job, but someone who knows how to use it might,” he said. Edelman also discussed the risks of AI, specifically voice mimicry. It’s no longer science fiction or a tactic of the Impossible Mission force.
Speaking of presidents, in the lead up to the recent New Hampshire primary, a call campaign used President Biden’s voice to urge people not to vote. Scary stuff.
Ylopo’s Raiya will only get better the more often it’s deployed, as AI is supposed to do. It’s also very likely that, in time, businesses will be saddled with having to disclose when a call, or even a text, is coming from a server farm.
The company is working with responsive, AI-generated video, too, like BombBomb. It can adapt quickly to respond to a person’s buying preferences in the moments after a search, is versed in multiple languages, and is designed specifically for a smaller viewing window to avoid easy-to-spot flaws or glitches. Generative video is still easy to recognize when full screen and, thus, really distracting if not deployed properly.
As tired as I grew about all things AI at Inman Connect, it really is that critical a topic. The company was right to make it such a prominent panel topic. With its recent $3 trillion valuation, Microsoft bypassed Apple last week as the world’s most valuable company, largely on the merits of its adoption of AI. Looks like Clippy finally had its glow-up.
Artificial intelligence will really, unequivocally, change the real estate industry. Intimidating at times, yes, but as Dr. Edelman said, for now, it’s all just math and code.
Until it isn’t.