Building with Volley: The Highest-Grossing AI-Powered Games Company

Lightspeed triples down on Volley in the company's $55 million Series C, co-led with Microsoft's M12 Ventures. Participants in the financing include General Catalyst, Causeway Media Partners, the Amazon Alexa Fund, BITKRAFT, Y Combinator, and others.

Volley co-founders Max Child and James Wilsterman in the company’s San Francisco headquarters.

Series C co-led by Microsoft and Lightspeed

Volley, the revenue leader of AI-powered games, announced today the closing of its Series C fundraising round.

The $55 million round is co-led by Microsoft’s M12 Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Lightspeed also led Volley’s Series A round in 2020 and co-led the Series B in 2022. General Catalyst, Causeway Media Partners, the Amazon Alexa Fund, BITKRAFT, Y Combinator, Boost VC, Alumni Ventures, Waverley, Gaingels, and Riverside participated in the latest round.

To our knowledge, Volley is the highest-grossing AI-powered games company—and certainly, the leading creator of voice-enabled games for Amazon Alexa, Fire TVs, Roku TVs, and mobile devices.

The Company’s games are played by over 5 million people every month. Popular Volley games include Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, 20 Questions, and Question of the Day.

Volley’s voice AI games include Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, 20 Questions, and more.

Proof that AI and revenue can go hand in hand

Countering what seems to be the ‘2024 narrative of generative AI’ for startups to pick either AI or revenue, Volley has both—good fuel to back up their latest oversubscribed raise—and then some. In 2024, Volley games have been played in over 30 million homes.

And the company isn’t stopping any time soon:

“This latest funding round will accelerate our development of new voice-controlled, AI-powered games,” said Max Child, CEO & Co-Founder of Volley. “Large language models and other emerging voice AI technologies are allowing us to create entirely new categories of games that weren’t previously possible. We’re thrilled to grow our portfolio of titles and reach new customers with the support of Microsoft and Lightspeed.”

Games are available on smart speakers like Amazon Alexa and smart TVs including Roku and Fire TV.

Your voice as a game controller

Each Volley game is controlled by talking to a microphone-enabled device, such as a smart TV voice remote, smartphone, or smart speaker. The games feature an AI voice interface—rather than traditional input mechanisms like touch screens or handheld game controllers—making them instantly accessible to a broad audience of casual players.

Volley's games require no controllers, with voice control through your remote, phone, or smart speaker.

State-of-the-art technology meets entertainment

The Company’s games are built on a proprietary stack integrating four rapidly evolving AI technologies: speech recognition, natural language processing, LLM-powered content generation, and speech synthesis.

It’s thrilling to see that some of the most important players in the AI and voice technology world—Microsoft’s M12 Ventures and Amazon—are backing Volley. Both have the insight and scale to support the increasingly scaled startup as they leverage the latest generative AI and voice AI technologies to build a global business that reaches millions of players.

“At M12, Microsoft’s Venture Fund, we seek companies innovating at the nexus of state-of-the-art AI technology and lively, entertainment-oriented experiences that are fun and engaging for everyone,” said Michael Stewart, Managing Partner at M12, who is joining the company’s board of directors. “We’re excited to partner with Volley as they extend their leadership in casual-format, AI-powered interactive voice games that can be delivered to their userbase of millions via the widest possible variety of devices, from smartphones to smart TVs.”

The recent raise will allow the company to further invest in creating advanced LLM-powered non-player characters and best-in-class speech recognition. In fact, in the last few weeks, we’ve seen the industry converge on Volley’s long-term view that speech is the best way for consumers to interact with artificial intelligence. Recent GPT-4o and Gemini demos show that leading AI research labs train large language models to directly support powerful voice interactions out-of-the-box.

OpenAI's GPT-4o introduces exciting new avenues for Volley's voice-powered game experiences.

Revenue leadership among AI-powered games

We love partnering with extraordinary founders and have been fans and supporters of Max, James, and the team since 2018. At a time when most vertical applications in AI are still proving their business models with nascent revenue streams, Volley has built not only the undisputed market leader in AI voice games but—to our knowledge—also the highest-grossing AI-powered gaming startup.

This current round is a testament to Volley’s continued ability to deliver growth, and we’re proud to be partners as part of our growing gaming & interactive media portfolio.

The Volley office is located in the heart of the beautiful Hayes Valley neighborhood in San Francisco.

Calling engineers, product builders, and beyond

The mighty team based in San Francisco needs to grow to bring even more high-quality voice game experiences to TVs, Alexa devices, and beyond. Volley believes that generative AI, large language models, and enhanced speech synthesis technologies are going to fundamentally change the way people play games at home.

Please check out their job postings over the coming weeks and months as they open multiple roles in our Product, Engineering, Data, Growth, and Operations teams to propel them forward.

Volley’s hybrid work model allows the ~60% of its local employees to enjoy in-person time with colleagues a couple of days a week, with flexibility as needed. The remainder of teammates are spread across the country (and world) and visit several times a year to enjoy team events and bonding experiences.

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