Creating avatars in Lensa? This is a project from Russian founders and investors

Lensa, an app allowing you to create anime or superheroes-styled AI avatars, is gaining popularity among the users worldwide. Lensa is actively discussed in media like CNBC, Washington Post, ABC News, and others. Some journalists just recommend trying it, some raise concerns about the privacy problems not all the users are aware of. Because no one knows what will happen to the photos after you uploaded them onto the app.

Especially, considering Lensa’s close ties with Russia. Although, the app uses Western technologies, in particular the Stable Diffusion neural network, it is actually a completely Russian project with Russian founders, investors, and developers. AIN.Capital tells about who are hiding behind Lensa project and why you should think twice before using it.

Created by a company from Russia

Lensa was created by Russian developers from the company Prisma Labs and released earlier this year. It offers the functions of a standard photo editor. However, on November 21, an updated version was released with a paid function Magic Avatars. It allows users to employ neural networks to make people in photos look like characters from anime, movies, real stars, and superheroes.

The service was created by Russians. As reported by the Russian Forbes, a student of the Moscow Institute of International Technology, Ilya Frolov, had the idea of the app. He shared it with Alexey Moiseyenkov at the end of 2015, when he was giving a lecture at the institute. A year later, in 2016, Russians Alexey Moiseyenkov, Andrey Usoltsev, Ilya Frolov, Oleg Poyaganov, and Aram Hardy founded Prisma.

Investors are Russians, including Yandex

  • Almost immediately after its creation, in April 2016, during the seed round, the project was supported by Russian Haxus (Palta), Elysium Venture Capital, Group, and Gagarin Capital Partners.
  • In the summer of 2018, the co-founders of Prisma Alexey Moiseyenkov and Aram Hardy left the company without explaining the reasons. At the beginning of 2019, Group and Moiseyenkov left the company’s shareholders, selling their shares to the investment company Haxus (Palta). It is currently owned by Russian Alexey Gubarev and Belarusian Yuri Gursky, who live in Cyprus.
  • Haxus became (and still is) Prisma Labs’ largest shareholder with a stake of more than 40%. Moiseyenkov confirmed to Forbes the fact of shareholders’ withdrawal from Prisma Labs, while the representative of Group refused to comment.

Why is it important?

Even free apps that were created by Russians should not be used to prevent them from making money from advertising and promoting their projects. In addition, it’s better to mind the work of the Russian special services. No one can guarantee you a sufficient level of security when using programs written by your enemy.

However, Lensa does offer paid features, thanks to which it becomes more and more popular. Paying money to Russians provides direct financial support for the war, because Russian companies pay salaries and taxes in their country.