July 9, 2024

Fueling the Future of Gaming with an Investment in AI Voice Game Leader

Volley Cover Image


Michael Stewart

Today, we are excited to share that M12 co-led, with Lightspeed Venture Partners, the $55M Series C round in Volley Since its founding in 2016, Volley has led the market in creating voice-enabled games via voice AI platforms. Volley makes AI-powered voice games, or games you can talk to: interactive, multiplayer, and on screen. Volley’s popular games include classic IP driven titles like Jeopardy, The Price is Right, Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Wheel of Fortune, Song Quiz, and Question of the Day.

Central to M12’s AI thesis is addressing the challenges of LLM adoption to reach a global userbase, where generative AI applications would be used on a similar scale as the world’s leading consumer-oriented digital platforms. Investors are observing that we have rapidly entered the competitive phase for AI startups: competition for talent, funding, and of course, users. Lately, it’s relatively more important to demonstrate product-market fit in new use cases, especially those where the userbase size is huge and barely tapped by AI chat or search, than for application startups to fully build their own infrastructure as a differentiator. Beyond markets that are already well served with applications like code generation, information search and retrieval, and even creative applications to generate images, video, and lately, songs, there is still the question of how such assets fit into peoples’ everyday lives, particularly in ways that relate to casual enjoyment. With a userbase of millions that is still growing quickly, Volley has had success in monetizing LLM APIs in an interactive but fun setting related to gaming that leverages both the language synthesis abilities of the current wave of AI in a number of styles related to popular game shows, and the tailwinds of relentless progress in generative AI tooling that we’ve all seen over the last three years.

The convergence of AI-enabled experiences with traditional media and entertainment production, and leveraging existing global-scale distribution channels, is one of the nearest term ways to deliver and demonstrate the power of generative AI to billions of people. Today, M12 tracks many AI-first applications that have attracted paying user bases of millions. While we’re encouraged to see monetization becoming a priority, most of the applications that are leading relate to information retrieval, UGC or artistic creation, and code generation. While all being very important markets to our thesis. However, we believe AI will have a more immediate and significant impact on society when it becomes a part of people’s leisure activities. At that point, interactivity could be achieved through active participation in a gaming environment, allowing AI to play a key role in bridging the gap. We’re excited to partner with Volley as they follow their destiny towards creating a nexus for enjoyment and entertainment that increasingly will incorporate advanced multimodal LLM technology, via our M12 platform access to the world’s most advanced AI models, development tools, compute infrastructure, and largest distribution channels for users and enterprises alike.