Startup Raises $21M to Replace Copywriters With Computers


Writers' days are numbered -- since a startup has raised another $21 million to create computer software to replace them.

Persado raised the funds in a second round led by StarVest Partners which includes Citi Ventures and American Express Ventures, basically its customers as well as investors, according to the Wall Street Journal. Bain Capital Ventures also was part of the round. Its Series A funding was $15 million in 2012, led by Bain Capital.

Persado emerged in 2012 in New York City and specializes "creating automated messages that try to persuade people to take action," or the same phrases or writings that typically have been created by copywriters. Persado was created from founder and chief executive Alex Vratskides' previous company called Upstream.

Customer Citi said that Persado's automated messages have caused customers to open emails 70 percent more as well as raised the rate 114 percent of those who go back to open emails. Persado certainly sounds effective, and it's not surprising that Citi has become one of its largest investors.

“We have never lost to a human,” Vratskides said told the WSJ. “I’m a mathematician , and I can guarantee you, it’s like a computer losing to a human on a chess game, even worse than that…It incorporates a lot of randomness to get there, it’s like getting a needle in a haystack. We built the haystack. The human brain does not work this way.”

Vratskides insisted that the algorithm incorporates all the components of persuasion which the human brain may not be able to calculate -- too many variables, he said. Instead, computers are better equipped.

The money will be to increase sales in major corporations with total funding at $37 million. 

Is automation the way of the future? According to many reports, including ours, it is because artificial intelligence has improved greatly in the last few decades. But is humanity so easy to understand that it can be solved with an algorithm? People like Vratskides believe it and corporations do, too.

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