ChatGPT who? Ari Emanuel lets his AI alter ego open Endeavor’s earnings call
Corporate executives can often sound like robots during their post-earnings conference calls with Wall Street analysts.
Ari Emanuel, chief executive of talent agency and UFC owner Endeavor, has taken that idea to a literal extreme. On Tuesday afternoon, a synthetic version of Emanuel’s voice delivered the opening remarks on Endeavor’s fourth-quarter earnings call, in place of Emanuel himself.
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Emanuel’s voice was replicated with technology from Florida-based Speechify, a firm that provides software that transforms text to speech. Endeavor became a minority investor in Speechify last year. One of the English-language voices featured on Speechify’s website is Snoop Dogg, a client of Hollywood talent agency WME, which is owned by Beverly Hills-based Endeavor.
“We used a recording of Ari’s voice and our generative AI [artificial intelligence] system to create a synthesized version of Ari’s voice,” said Cliff Weitzman, CEO of Speechify, in a statement.
Speechify launched a new product line on Tuesday that will create AI voice-overs.
It took a little over six months of testing and learning to create a synthetic version of Emanuel’s voice, according to Endeavor. The company said it has been looking into potential opportunities in the AI space for Endeavor and its clients.
So is “Ari Emanuel,” the AI voice, ready for the role of Ari Emanuel, entertainment industry mogul?
Good enough, perhaps, to handle the open remarks for an earnings call, which is typically a staid summary of a firm’s results with bullish generalities about the company’s overall position in the industry.
“Closing out our first full year as a public company, we are encouraged by our performance in 2022,” Emanuel’s AI synthetic voice said. “We saw strong growth across our segments. Our business has proven resilient despite ongoing macroeconomic headwinds.”
The actual human Emanuel handled the Q&A portion of the call, fielding questions from analysts about the details of the business. He said it was the proper time to put Speechify’s technology into the quarterly earnings call, “so you can hear what it’s like.”
The effort comes as the industry grapples with new technologies that could change the way production and writing are handled on sets. One of the issues that the Writers Guild of America may tackle in its upcoming negotiations with studios is regulating artificial intelligence in writing, along with concerns about pay from streaming and the use of so-called mini-rooms. Studios already are bracing for the possibility that film and TV writers will go on strike.
The real Emanuel addressed the likelihood of a work stoppage and whether it would hurt Endeavor’s business.
“I think we’re pretty well positioned as it relates to a strike,” Emanuel said, citing the company’s diversified business, which includes sports and music. “A great deal of our percentage of our economics comes from outside the writing, directing business.”
The Writers Guild of America has asked its members to vote on a list of key proposals that will guide negotiations with the major studios in the spring.
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