#mna Pinterest acquires Visual Graph.
Originally posted on Gigaom:
If you’re keeping count, Pinterest’s acquisition of Visual Graph on Monday is at least the seventh of its kind by popular web companies in the last 15 or so months. The “kind” I’m referring to are machine learning startups, specifically those focused on analyzing the content of images and text. Yahoo, Dropbox, Facebook and Google have previously made moves of their own, because the next wave in big data for web properties is the content their users are producing.
A few acquisitions stand out off the of my head, although I’m sure there are more that have flown underneath the radar:
- Google acquired DNNresearch in March 2013. The creation of University of Toronto professor Geoff Hinton and his lab, the company focused on deep learning (the “DNN” stands for deep neural networks) to improve the state of the art in image recognition in photos.
- Dropbox acquired Anchovi Labs in September 2012. The company was a very young startup at time, focused on software that let users easily train it on types of objects so it could recognize them as it analyzed new images.
- Yahoo acquired, IQ Engines, LookFlow and SkyPhrase between August and December in 2013. IQ Engines and LookFlow were focused on image recognition — primarily, it seems, helping user sort through their smartphone photos and online albums — while SkyPhrase focused on letting people search for data using natural language.
- Facebook hired deep learning expert Yann Lecun from New York University to head up the company’s new artificial intelligence lab. Lecun and his NYU group (which includes Rob Fergus, who’s also headed to Facebook), specialized in deep learning for computer vision and image recognition.
And then, on Monday, Pinterest announced it has acquired Visual Graph, the purpose of which appeared to be building a network graph of images based on an understanding of the elements they contain. Visual Graph co-founders Kevin Jing and David Liu (both former Google computer vision engineers) wrote on the company’s website about the acquisition, “We are excited for the opportunity to combine machine vision with human vision and curation, and to build a visual discovery experience that is both aesthetically appealing and immensely useful for people everywhere.”