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SoundHound, once just a music-recognition app, is now a billion dollar company

Welcome to the unicorn club.

Man listening to music Valery Sharifulin / TASS via Getty Images

Not all is bad in the land of music recognition.

Around the same time that Shazam was selling for a fraction of its valuation the last time it was priced, its competitor SoundHound quietly raised a new round of financing that values the company at an estimated $1 billion, Recode has learned. Investors apparently believe that despite the troubles of a similar product, there is value in virtual assistants.

In November, SoundHound added another $50 million to its war chest from an undisclosed investor, according to a fundraising document obtained by PitchBook. It’s not much of a step up from its last round of financing just 10 months earlier — in January 2017, a $75 million round valued the company, plus the money, at $830 million.

Still, it’s a better financial picture than Shazam, which only sold to Apple for $400 million in December despite its last valuation at a similar $1 billion.

The products were once identical, but over the last two years, SoundHound has moved beyond being merely a Shazam competitor. The company now centers on its Hound app, which uses voice recognition and artificial intelligence to field inquiries, much like Amazon Alexa or Apple Siri.

The 12-year-old company has been slow to raise money — it has now collected about $165 million over that decade-plus period. Previous backers include TransLink Capital, Global Capital Partners and Walden Venture Capital.

SoundHound declined to comment.

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