In its first investment in Israel, Russian search engine Yandex is rumoured to invest $3.4 million in Israel’s Face.com, a startup developing face recognition technology. This is Face.com’s second round, after previously raising about $1 million from Rhodium and local angels Yaniv Golan (AOL, ex Yedda) and Yariv Gilat. As a result of the investment, Yandex’s CEO Arkady Volozh is now a member of Face.com’s board.
The Face recognition space has recently gotten interesting, following the acquisition of Swedish startup Polar Rose by Apple, estimated at $22-$29 million.
TheMarker reports that since opening its API in May this year, Face has seen 5,000 developers use its technology on the cloud, with no need for installations. Face has said to be working on new applications both on the commercial side (working with companies such as Ortbit chewing gum on marketing campaigns) as well as on mobile applications.
Face.com was founded in 2007 by Gil Hirsch (CEO), Yaniv Taigman (CTO), Moti Sneiberg and Eden Shochat (Eden is also one of Face.com’s investors and today serves as a partner in Gensis). The first deployment of Face.com’s technology is a photo finder application for Facebook, today’s largest photo sharing site, which scans public photos in the social network and suggests automated tags for untagged faces. Face.com has offices in Tel Aviv and New York and currently has a headcount of 8.
UPDATE: TechCrunch updates that Gil Hirsch released the following statement:
Face.com has indeed accepted a round of funding. The total amount is $4.3M USD, and the participants included Rhodium, Yandex, and current private investors. We’re going to use the money to boost our development team, hire some new and talented people, and build out additional infrastructure to support our facial recognition platform.
We’ve had thousands of developers sign up to join our platform and get access to our facial recognition API’s, and we want to support those developers and provide great technology. We’re excited and very proud to have the support from our investors.