An Auckland based artificial intelligence company Soul Machines has raised $US70 million ($NZ105m) to meet growing demand for "digital people".
The company raised the money from international tech investors to expand research into creating "digital twins of real life celebrities" used in marketing goods and services, and giving advice or answering consumer queries.
Soul Machines is looking to add another 100 to 150 workers to its current more than 200 staff, who are based in Phoenix, Arizona, and Auckland.
The five-year-old company was founded by technology entrepreneur Greg Cross and Academy Award winner Mark Sagar, and has been using AI to create "autonomously animated digital people" for digital workforces.
"I am thrilled to continue to work with innovative, global brands who understand the power of digital people to communicate, engage and interact with the world," Cross said in a statement.
"We are in a transformational era, where brands need to introduce different ways of personalisation and ways to deliver unique brand experiences to customers in a very transactional digital world."
The latest round of funding was led by the Softbank Investment group, and its investment director Anna Lo said large companies and organisations were increasingly wanting to use artificial intelligence.
"Global brands are investing more in how AI can create an intimate, personalized experience with their customers at scale."
"We believe that Soul Machines is at the cutting edge for creating digital people that can support companies across functions including customer service, training and entertainment," she said.
Among the company's customers are Air New Zealand, multinational food group Nestlé, and the World Health Organization, for which it created digital healthcare workers.