Talla raises $8.3 million to make its HR bot a better listener

Talla, a bot that helps employees complete tasks and answers employee HR and IT questions, has raised $8.3 million to expand its operations and better understand words used by humans.

Talla Service Desk bot uses natural language processing to answer questions in a conversational way, and gets smarter when managers share commonly asked employee questions through an administrative backend as well as from observing the kinds of questions asked by employees.

“If you answer a question one time, Talla should know if from then on out. We focus a lot of paraphrase detection, or the academic term in NLP would be sentence similarity,” CEO Rob May told VentureBeat in a phone interview.

This round of investment will go toward the expansion of sales and marketing teams as well as the data science team to explore ways to improve Talla’s NLP.

“What’s interesting about machine learning is these tools and techniques are really going to start to make people more productive while also improving the user experience so it’s like a double whammy right you lower your costs while you provide a better class of service, so I think we’re going to see some really unique opportunities over the next couple of years as more areas of enterprise software get picked up by AI companies,” May said.

Like Troops, Statsbot, and recipients of The Slack Fund, Talla is one of a small group of companies making bots for enterprise customers on Slack or Microsoft Teams who have raised million of dollars for their bots.

The $8.3 million round was led by Glasswing Ventures with participation from PJC, and previous investors including Avalon, Pillar, and Launch. Talla is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts and to date has raised more than $12 million.

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