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AI Player Veritone Lists Despite Weak Financials

Posted on Tuesday, Dec 19th 2017

According to a MarketsandMarkets report, the global artificial intelligence (AI) market will be worth $16.06 billion by the year 2022. The researcher estimates the industry to grow at a phenomenal rate of 62.9% annually over the period 2016 to 2022. Earlier this year, AI-driven media services provider Veritone (Nasdaq: VERI) went public. It had a rather lackluster start to the listing, but the stock has done fairly well thereafter.

Veritone’s Offerings

Costa Mesa, California-based Veritone was founded in 2014 by Chad Steelberg, Patrick Lennon, Ryan Steelberg, and Zeus Peleuses. It was set up to develop a platform that can leverage AI-based cognitive computing to process, transform, relate, and analyze unstructured audio and video data to generate actionable intelligence. Veritone currently operates an ad-placement media business where it acts as an aggregator of third party video and audio analytics engines.

Veritone has been developing a SaaS-based model that would become a major AI offering. Its platform can manage and integrate a wide variety of AI processes to imitate human cognitive functions such as perception, reasoning, prediction, and problem solving to cost effectively transform unstructured data into structured data. It has the ability to store the results in a searchable, time-correlated database, creating a rich, online, searchable index of audio, video and structured data, enabling users to analyze the information in near real-time to drive business decisions and insights. It operates on an open architecture and allows cognitive engines to be added quickly so that it is scalable and all kinds of industries can benefit from the solution.

Veritone’s Financials

Veritone earns revenues from its media placement services performed under advertising contracts. Its media advertising clients include names like Uber Technologies, 1-800Flowers.com, Dollar Shave Club, and DraftKings. It is still in the early stages of developing its AI platform and SaaS licensing business and has not yet generated significant revenues from it. Overall revenues have grown from $8.9 million in 2015 to $13.9 million in 2016. It continues to make significant investment in sales and marketing and research and development. Losses have widened from $6.2 million in 2015 to $23.3 million in 2016.

Recent quarterly results weren’t very impressive either. Net revenues grew 60% to $3.7 million, driven by a 48% growth in media revenues and a 340%  growth in the SaaS licensing business. Net loss for the quarter came in at $19.4 million, compared with $8.2 million a year ago.

Till recently, Veritone was venture funded. It had raised $65 million from investors including Acacia Research, Miramar Ventures, and Checketts Partners Investment Fund. Its last funding round was held in August 2016 when it raised $50 million from a round led by Acacia Research at an undisclosed valuation. In May this year, Veritone filed to go public by raising $18.75 million through the sale of 1.25 million shares at $15 each.

Given its rather weak financials, investors have been skeptical of Veritone’s listing. Some believe that the company went public only to ride on the “hot” AI sector. Its stock is trading at $22.75 with a market capitalization of $365.75 million. It has had quite a choppy ride after having climbed from the low of $7.76 in August to a peak of $74.92 in September this year. The stock had soared in September in reaction to a mention about the company in a Barron’s note.

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