August 18, 2017
Google just acquired AIMatter, a Belarus startup that will boost the tech giant’s efforts in computer vision, the artificial intelligence sector that helps computers process images as well as, or even better, than humans. AIMatter has already built a neural-network-powered AI platform and SDK that quickly processes images on mobile devices, as well as Fabby, a photo/video editing app that has been used as a proof-of-concept. AIMatter has employees in Minsk, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Zurich, Switzerland.
TechCrunch reports that, “terms of the sale are not being disclosed, but we understand that Fabby — which has had over 2 million downloads — will continue to run, and … most of AIMatter’s employees will come onboard to Google,” although it is uncertain if they will relocate.
Prior to the purchase, AIMatter raised about $2 million for Fabby, from backers including venture fund Haxus that specializes in AI startups; former Googler Yury Melnichek, who transitioned from AIMatter co-founder/chair to an investor and advisor; and AIMatter chief executive Andrei Kulik. Haxus previously invested in “MSQRD, which was acquired by Facebook; Maps.me, which was acquired by Mail.ru; and Prisma, the popular app that can turn any photo or video into a ‘painting’ using filters in the style of different artists or artistic movements.”
According to TechCrunch, “the rapid acquisition pace we’ve seen in this area is a testament to how in-demand computer vision technology is today,” since it’s become “an essential component of new computing platforms for virtual and augmented reality applications, for autonomous driving and more.”
It also points out that, as of yet, it is unknown how Google plans to use the assets of AIMatter, although it surmises that photo filters are a good way to “get more involved in the next generation of social applications, not just to build bigger audiences on these platforms but also to use them to build new frontiers in its advertising business,” and that AIMatter would also advance Google’s work in AR and VR as well as “machine learning platforms such as TensorFlow for developers to build their own apps using machine learning.”