Snap acquires Ukrainian startup AI Factory for $166M
The company acquired a startup AI Factory with offices in Ukraine for $166M, a source familiar with the matter informed AIN.UA.
The details of the deal are not disclosed. According to the source, Snap Inc. already owned a stake in the startup, and this deal was aimed at buying out stakes of other investors. The company’s total valuation at the time of the deal was about $200 million. The deal has already been closed.
Victor Shaburov, the company’s founder, refused to comment.
The editor of AIN.UA sent a request to Snap, but he was not able to obtain a prompt reply.
About AI Factory startup
AI Factory startup was founded by entrepreneur Viktor Shaburov. His previous startup Looksery was also acquired by Snap Inc. for $150 million in 2015. The company was founded in 2018 and operated in stealth mode. It has three offices: in San Francisco, Kyiv, and Zaporizhzhia. The company employs 70 people. After the deal, some of the employees will move to the Snap office.
The company was developing a feature that was integrated into the Snapchat application as a result of the deal. The feature was revealed in early December of this year, it is called Cameos. This feature allows you to edit a user’s photo, turning it into a video.
Essentially, it is a deepfake technology that allows a user to insert his or her face into a GIF image with other people or even animals. In early December, some French users got access to a test version of this feature. On December 18, the feature was officially launched on iOS and Android.
It works in chats between users. To get a video with yourself and share it with a friend, you need to take a selfie, then select a GIF image that you like from the template, and the service will insert an animated photo of the user’s face into the selected image. You can add text on top of the animated message.
The Ukrainian company has been working on the development of this service for a year.