HeyGen Is Deregistering Its Domestic Entity, Possibly Related to A $5.6 Million New Funding Round

AItechtalk has learned that the AI startup behind HeyGen, Surreal AI, is currently undergoing dissolution procedures with the intention of deregistering its domestic entity.

According to Tianyancha, starting from December 11, 2023, Surreal AI plans to apply for deregistration with the company registration authority due to a resolution of dissolution. Creditors are required to declare their claims to the liquidation team within 45 days from the date of announcement.

This year, the AI video generation tool HeyGen can be said to have earned a lot of attention.

At first, the domestic attention on HeyGen originated from a video of Taylor Swift speaking Chinese. Subsequently, Steve Jobs spoke Chinese and said ‘crazy ones change the world,’ Guo Degang performed English cross-talk, Zhao Benshan gave an interview in London accent, and Ma Baoguo passionately spoke Japanese while transforming into General Ma. These videos became popular on the internet, causing HeyGen to go viral both domestically and internationally.

HeyGen’s realistic video generation effect is the main reason why users are impressed. It supports over 300 different voices and more than 40 languages, allowing for precise synchronization. The voice tone in the videos closely resembles that of native speakers, even matching lip movements. In addition, AI video translation with ‘Video Translate’ is also one of its highlights.

Industry insiders commented: ‘Half a year ago, AI technology required 20-30 minutes of human voice material to train a voice model. However, HeyGen only requires a few seconds, and currently no similar product has been seen to achieve the same level of accuracy as HeyGen in terms of lip-syncing.’

HeyGen’s popularity has brought astonishing revenue performance.

Since the launch of its AI video production application in July 2022, HeyGen has achieved an annual recurring revenue of $1 million in March, with a staggering 92% year-on-year increase in website traffic in September this year. It ranks first among domestic AI products going global and has grown to $10 million in October. Now, this number has climbed to $18 million.

In terms of financing, Surreal AI, which was established less than a year ago, has completed two rounds of funding totaling millions of dollars: In March 2021, it received angel investing from Sequoia China Seed Fund and ZhenFund; On August 30th of the same year, it secured a Pre-A round funding worth millions of dollars led by IDG Capital, with participation from Sequoia China Seed Fund and ZhenFund.

And on November 29th this year, Surreal AI received a latest investment of $5.6 million, and the company’s valuation reached $75 million.

According to reports, HeyGen has secured a new round of venture capital funding worth $5.6 million led by Conviction Partners, with Silicon Valley star investor Sarah Guo involved. As part of the deal, Guo will take over the seat on HeyGen’s board previously held by Sequoia China Seed Fund, which is one of the measures taken by HeyGen to maintain distance from its Chinese origins.

Therefore, the dissolution of the domestic entity registered under Surreal AI is also considered to be related to the recent round of financing it just obtained.

Industry insiders point out that there are various motivations driving HeyGen, an AI entity, to localize in China. These include better access to foreign clients, avoiding suppression from overseas governments, as well as some practical factors such as reducing labor and transportation costs, and lowering taxes.

In fact, HeyGen is largely targeted towards overseas markets and has been following an international expansion strategy from the beginning. Previously, there were many users who complained about HeyGen’s regional restrictions and temporary email registration issues. To log in to the official HeyGen website, you need to register an account using your email or directly use your Google or Facebook account for login.

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HeyGen’s founders, Joshua Xu and Wayne Liang, are alumni of Tongji University. Later, they pursued their master’s degrees together at Carnegie Mellon University. After graduation, they went to the West Coast of the United States to pursue their careers separately.

Joshua Xu joined Snapchat as one of its first 100 employees. He built the Snapchat advertising platform, recommendation algorithm system, and machine learning platform Barista from scratch. He was also responsible for the technical and product development of AI camera. Wayne Liang became a product designer for Smule, a karaoke app startup company, and ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok.

Both individuals are committed to simplifying the process of corporate video production. Joshua Xu has publicly stated that AI-generated videos are about to experience a similar trend as Snapchat or Instagram did during the early stages of mobile photography revolution. AI can take on the role of content creation and is expected to become the new generation’s camera.

Recently, HeyGen has launched a new feature – an instant AI avatar generator. With the use of a smartphone camera, you can create your own AI avatar in just 5 minutes. This product will greatly simplify the process of creating customized AI avatars for videos, thanks to significant breakthroughs in HeyGen’s AI model architecture.

Joshua Xu revealed that the company has developed its own video AI model and has also integrated large language models from OpenAI and Anthropic for text processing, as well as audio technology provided by Eleven Labs.