CloudFactory Receives $2 Million Investment from The Rockefeller Foundation to Tap Skilled Kenya Workforce
February 13, 2015
DURHAM—CloudFactory today announced it has received a $2 million program related investment from The Rockefeller Foundation to expand its SpeakerText service, for fast, accurate video and audio transcription.
The Foundation made the investment under its Digital Jobs Africa initiative, a seven-year, $100 million effort to improve a million lives by connecting high-potential but disadvantaged youth in Africa to sustainable digital employment opportunities and skills training. The Foundation’s investment comes shortly after CloudFactory received $3 million in Series A venture funding.
CloudFactory is an online work platform for data-intensive processes, which allows technology companies to add human-powered features to their software platforms. CloudFactory’s SpeakerText service combines human and machine intelligence to provide high-speed, high-accuracy video and audio transcription. SpeakerText splits video and audio recordings into 10-second clips and dispatches them to large groups of workers for quick transcription. The Foundation’s investment will help create jobs at scale for the previously unemployed.
“After we bought SpeakerText and upgraded the technology, we searched the world to find the best untapped talent,” said CloudFactory Founder and CEO Mark Sears. “We identified Kenya as the hottest up-and-coming location in the world to build a transcription team, because of Kenya’s abundant supply of talented workers with strong English skills.”
The growing CloudFactory workforce in Kenya already provides captioning for media companies like ESPN, large enterprises like Deloitte and educational institutions like the University of North Carolina. In addition, CloudFactory has successfully engineered its platform to integrate with leading video platforms such as Ooyala, Brightcove, Kaltura and YouTube.
“Using CloudFactory’s leading-edge technology to tap into Kenya’s highly-skilled workforce creates a win-win scenario that will greatly improve the lives of Kenyan youth who have limited access to alternative employment,” said Mamadou Biteye, managing director of The Rockefeller Foundation’s Africa Regional Office. “CloudFactory is gaining reliable, high-performing workers to meet its customer demand, while Kenya’s workers are joining the global digital economy.”
Kenya has been called Africa’s “Silicon Savannah,” with rapid growth of Internet access, widespread use of mobile payments technology, and nearly two dozen hubs and incubators in Nairobi supporting local entrepreneurship.
CloudFactory acquired SpeakerText in late 2012. At the time the service relied on crowdsourced labor through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk marketplace. In order to enable the quality control and rapid scaling that crowdsourcing can’t provide, in 2014 CloudFactory moved the service to its own professionally managed cloud workforce.
“The Rockefeller Foundation’s Digital Jobs Africa initiative aligns with CloudFactory’s own social mission of connecting 1 million people to online work,” Sears added. “This investment gives us the resources and flexibility we need to continue connecting the world’s best workers with the world’s most innovative software companies.”
Launched in 2013, The Rockefeller Foundation’s Digital Jobs Africa is being implemented in Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco, and Egypt.
CloudFactory’s unique combination of advanced technology and talented people lets SaaS (Software as a Service) companies grow by introducing new and improved features they can’t develop with technology alone. The company aims to connect 1 million people to online work, while raising them up as leaders to address poverty in their own communities. CloudFactory is headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, with significant operations in Nepal and Kenya. For more information, please see cloudfactory.com.
About The Rockefeller Foundation
For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Today, The Rockefeller Foundation pursues this mission through dual goals: advancing inclusive economies that expand opportunities for more broadly shared prosperity, and building resilience by helping people, communities and institutions prepare for, withstand, and emerge stronger from acute shocks and chronic stresses. To achieve these goals, The Rockefeller Foundation works at the intersection of four focus areas—advance health, revalue ecosystems, secure livelihoods, and transform cities—to address the root causes of emerging challenges and create systemic change. Together with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation strives to catalyze and scale transformative innovations, create unlikely partnerships that span sectors, and take risks others cannot—or will not. For more information, please visit rockefellerfoundation.org.
For more information, please contact:
CloudFactory: Paul Sherer, firstname.lastname@example.org, 1-415-385-5970