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How AWS Supported WOMBO’s Wildly Popular, AI-Powered App
When WOMBO, a Toronto-based synthetic media company, launched its AI-powered lip sync app at the end of February 2021, it took off like a rocket ship. In just ten months, 74 million people across more than 180 countries downloaded the app, making Wombo one of the fastest-growing consumer apps in history.
Today, through the WOMBO and WOMBO Dream apps the company has more than 10 million monthly active users, ranging from Gen Z teens through creators in their 90s—a point of pride for the company.
“We get customer reviews from people saying, ‘My grandma doesn’t get a lot of entertainment on the internet, but she found your app, and she’s never laughed so much,’” says Ryan Khurana, WOMBO’s Chief of Staff. “That was a really important design principle. We wanted to make an app that was so simple that anyone could use it.”
For most startups, scaling quickly and becoming extremely popular is a desirable goal. But the rate of WOMBO’s growth exceeded even the founders’ wildest expectations, with 25 million downloads in the first month alone—something that created a huge challenge for the company.
“It just took off,” Khurana says. “Our AWS bill was higher, by an order of magnitude, than all the money we raised. If we did not have a partner that was as friendly as AWS, and as understanding of the situation, we would have gone bankrupt.”
Success didn’t have to come at a price though. AWS recognized the situation and stepped in to help the company lower its costs, manage its payments, and develop a better understanding of the AWS infrastructure. That allowed the company to continue to improve the quality of its algorithms and operate in the cloud, a central part of WOMBO’s vision.
“Our bet on the cloud is a critical part of what synthetic media is,” Khurana says. “If you compare how our app works to how the vast majority of competitor apps in this space, we’re the only ones that will bear the much higher costs of processing in the cloud, because we’re convinced that the real AI experience people want—these really unique and unexpected visuals—cannot be processed on someone’s phone in an appealing manner.”
On a technical level, AWS worked closely with WOMBO’s engineers to continually optimize the app’s data processing to make sure clusters didn’t get bottle-necked.
“The scalability of the AWS cloud in general was a real area of strength for WOMBO,” Khurana says. “To have someone like AWS understand the strategic partnership from the get go, help us out in the early days, and still continue to support us right now, our company wouldn’t be where it is otherwise.”
Now, WOMBO is entering a new phase and the company is expanding on their fun, easy-to-use AI. Its latest release in November 2021 is an AI art generator called WOMBO Dream which allows users to create unique designs that can be turned into digital and physical artifacts. The app has has received 10 million downloads since launch, with 6 million monthly active users this month alone, proving that WOMBO has tapped into a widespread demand for AI-generated content. Looking to what’s next, the company continues to invest in the identification and optimization of cutting-edge AI models for entertainment.
And while users currently share WOMBO’s content via social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter, the company also plans to develop its own content platform, which will serve as a new venue for creators and encourage further interaction with WOMBO’s products. It will be, Khurana says, “a new type of social media experience.”
That such ambitious goals are possible is a testament to how WOMBO has fundamentally transformed the way people think about AI. Before the company launched its lip sync app, many people viewed AI with a certain amount of trepidation.
“For millions of people,” Khurana says, “we’ve been able to give them this exposure to AI as something fun.”
Ultimately, Khurana says, that’s a valuable addition to the pace at which technological progress can occur. Machine learning for efficiency and productivity won’t be the only drivers of its broad-scale adoption, it also helps if it’s fun. And thanks to AWS, that’s what WOMBO has been able to provide.
AWS Editorial Team
The AWS Startups Content Marketing Team collaborates with startups of all sizes and across all sectors to deliver exceptional content that educates, entertains, and inspires.
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