Pinterest hires a new head of computer vision

 As Pinterest increasingly tries to sell itself as a startup specialized in computer vision that it plugs into visual discovery, it’s continuing to pick up additional pieces to help continue to build that out. Today, the company said it is hiring former Google computer vision research lead Chuck Rosenberg. Read More

Pinterest Lens now gives users a way to figure out their outfits with the clothes in their closet

 Looking for outfits and what to wear is one of the bigger use cases on Pinterest, but as the company looks to try to make the process of getting the right content to users more seamlessly it’s been increasingly focusing on its interface with the real world with the camera. Now the company is going a further step in tapping that big use cases by letting Pinterest users tap the… Read More

eBay launches visual search tools that let you shop using photos from your phone or web

 eBay today is launching two new visual search tools that will allow online shoppers to use photos they snap, have saved on their phone, or even those they find while browsing the web or other social networking sites, in order to find matching products from eBay’s catalog. The tools, Image Search and Find it on eBay, leverage advancements in computer vision and deep learning, including… Read More

Google Image Search gets more like Pinterest by connecting you to recipes, products and more

 A day after Pinterest rolled out an update that put its visual search feature in the front-and-center of its app, Google announced it, too, is giving its visual search engine an upgrade. The company is today updating Image Search with a new feature that aims to connect web users with more than just a list of photos, as before – its results will also now highlight when there’s more… Read More

Ebay to launch visual search tools for finding products using photos from your phone or web

 Ebay this morning announced its plans to introduce new image search capabilities that will allow the company to better compete with the likes of Pinterest, Google and Amazon, all of which already support the use of photos in order to connect online shoppers with products of interest. There are two parts to eBay’s implementation of visual search: Image Search and Find It on eBay. With… Read More

Wayfair takes on Pinterest with its own visual search engine for home furnishings

 Pinterest and Google’s recent moves to leverage visual search technologies in order to connect consumers with products have not gone unnoticed by those in the e-commerce business. One company, Wayfair, is today taking inspiration from these efforts with a new feature for finding home furnishings that allows consumers to take a photo of something they like, then see related styles… Read More

Whirlpool acquires Yummly, the recipe search engine last valued at $100M

 Some consolidation in the world of subject-specific search and social networks, as a legacy player from the world of white goods makes a play for a wider audience. The Whirlpool Corporation — the world’s largest home appliance maker, founded back in 1911 — has acquired Yummly, a visual and semantic recipe search engine and aggregator with 20 million users, which also let… Read More

How Pinterest’s visual search went from a moonlight project to a real-world search engine

pinterest lens results Sometime around 2013 and 2014, deep learning was going through a revolution that required pretty much everyone to reset their expectations as to how things worked, and leveled the playing field for what people were doing with computer vision. At least that’s the philosophy that Pinterest engineer Andrew Zhai and his team have taken, because around that time he and a few others began… Read More

Craves’ new fashion app tells you what the celebs are wearing and finds you similar items

Craves_Editorial2 Want to have a wardrobe like Tay-tay’s? You can now, thanks to Craves. The company is today debuting a mobile fashion application that takes advantage of visual search technology to identify clothing and accessories as seen in photos. In particular, it’s focused on showing you what celebrities are wearing and where you can buy those items – or something similar, but… Read More

Google may reportedly add augmented reality support to its camera app

The back of LG's Google Nexus 5X.
Google is rumored to be looking at bringing augmented reality to its camera app. If true, the company would leverage technology from Google Goggles thereby allowing you to see relevant search results like nearby restaurants, transit information, and recommended retailers to purchase items. Details given to Android Authority through an anonymous source state that the integration would include a new feature “allowing users to outline specific areas of the image in order to directly target their searches. This would be an improvement on Google Goggles since the previous iteration only allowed you to search the whole image. Reports also indicate that “this technology has also been tested in “wearable computing devices”. This could suggest this technology may come to products like Google Glass and possibly even VR (or AR) headsets.” Google Goggles launched in 2009 as a visual search technology app, but after a few years the company stopped updating
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Gilt Groupe Founder Kevin Ryan Unveils His Latest Startup With Kontor, A Houzz For Office Design

kontor1 Serial entrepreneur Kevin Ryan has founded a number of businesses, including Gilt Groupe, Business Insider, database firm MongoDB, and wedding registry startup Zola. That experience has given him more insight than the average CEO as to what goes into designing and setting up a new office space. And today, that insider knowledge is being translated into Ryan’s latest company: a visual… Read More

Slyce Snatches Up Mobile Couponing App SnipSnap For $6.5 Million

ss_snap_redeem Visual search provider Slyce is expanding its lineup of mobile applications taking advantage of its proprietary image recognition technology with the acquisition of popular mobile couponing app SnipSnap for $6.5 million. The deal was a combination of cash and stock, and brings SnipSnap’s 4 million-plus consumers to Slyce, as well as its enterprise product line which Slyce now plans to… Read More

Visual Search Company Slyce Buys Pounce For $5M To Build “Amazon Firefly” For The Rest Of Retail

ad_L&T_02 Tel Aviv-based Pounce, a mobile shopping app that surfaces deals from retailers, as well as a way to shop print ads and catalogs from your smartphone, has been acquired by visual search company Slyce for $5 million in shares, cash and earn-out incentives. The deal wasn’t entirely a talent grab either, says Slyce, as the company was already on track to roll out a consumer-facing app of… Read More

Visual search startup Superfish hooks $10M from Vintage, DFJ, and Tamir Fishman

Visual search startup Superfish hooks $10M from Vintage, DFJ, and Tamir Fishman
Universal Pictures

A scene from Jaws

Superfish, a visual search startup focused on e-commerce and product searches, has raised $10 million in its fourth round of funding.

Unlike visual search startup Leap2, Superfish doesn’t want to go head to head with Google and Bing for general search results. Instead, it focuses on specialized results inside apps. The company claims its search engine can analyze images and provide real-time results without the need for text or human input. (Notably, Google offers this in a way with its own image search.)

The company can help businesses in the shopping space connect better with consumers in an increasingly photo-based web, says Adi Pinhas, cofounder and CEO of Superfish.

“Our investors recognized very early that our visual search technology has the potential to change the way people discover and engage with images online, and how tightly what we are working on is aligned with the future of image discovery and sharing,” Pinhas told us via email. “We have built a healthy revenue stream by solving visual search for shopping, and the next step is to evolve beyond e-commerce and apply this search technology towards consumer applications.”

Vintage Investment Partners led the new funding, with participation of prior investors Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) and Tamir Fishman. Superfish last raised $4 million back in Nov. 2010. Including the new round, Superfish has raised $19.3 million to date.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Superfish was founded in 2006.


Filed under: Deals
    


Can Leap2 really take on Google in search? ‘Probably not,’ but it’s still going to try

CloudBeat 2013
Sept. 9 - 10, 2013 San Francisco, CA
Early Bird Tickets on Sale

There aren’t many U.S. startups trying to reinvent search, and there’s a good reason for that. Google owns 67 percent of the market in the U.S., while smaller players like Bing and Yahoo fight for scraps.

But Kansas City, Kan.-based search startup Leap2 doesn’t seem to care that Google owns the market and knows exactly where it stands.

“Everybody wants to try to beat Google,” Leap2 director of product Tyler VanWinkle told me at the company’s Google Fiber-equipped office space. “Is that a reality for us? Probably not. Let’s get real about that. … Google is really, really good at what Google does. They are good at PageRank and pulling up relevant articles. We feel like we’re doing something completely different from what Google is doing.”

While some might think Leap2 is already admitting defeat to the Google leviathan, let’s pull back a little.

Leap2 is one of a handful of startups making a splash in the quickly growing Kansas City startup scene, which has been given a recent spotlight thanks to Google’s decision to launch Google Fiber first in KC. The company raised $1.6 million back in late April, bringing its total raised to about $2 million.

The company was founded in early 2011 and has seven full-time employees. It has focused almost exclusively on making mobile search better with apps for iOS, Android, and Windows 8.

Just two and a half months ago, Leap2 quietly launched a desktop version. Looking at the desktop app for just a glance, you can see what Leap2 is trying to do. It’s a highly visual, almost Pinterest-like take on web search. And it has been highly influenced by working on mobile search.

A single search on the desktop shows you previews of web pages, images, tweets, and more — all in different sized boxes. Unlike Google, Bing, Yahoo, or DuckDuckGo, which focus mostly on text-based initial search results, Leap2 is about giving you a visual guide. For example, a search for “VentureBeat” on Leap2 shows recent articles, logos, tweets, and more.

Leap2 search results in the desktop browser
Sean Ludwig/VentureBeat

Leap2 search results in the desktop browser

The engaging visual approach to search is one way Leap2 thinks it can make a mark in search. Another big goals is deliver real-time and social search like no one else. With Google not delivering Twitter results like it used to, Leap2 thinks it has an edge.

“My father would never look at or use Twitter,” Leap2 CEO Mike Farmer said. “But we did a search for ‘Lake Wilson fishing’ and there was a tweet that said, ‘If you want to catch walleye, you need to be fishing at 60 feet of water.’ For him, it’s highly relevant. That’s what you get with Twitter [results].”

Another way Leap2 thinks it will stand out from the pack? Being the search engine of choice for a younger generation that eschews brands that are too big. With teens using Snapchat more than they use Facebook, why not encourage them to try Leap2 instead of Google or Bing?

“The younger generations don’t have the same kind of loyalty we have,” VanWinkle said. “They haven’t been using Google for 15 years. They’re not loyal, frankly. They want something different. They expect it to be dressed, sassy, sexy, bundled up, and highly consumable.”

Farmer said that the company’s has a lot on its plate for the near future. It has plans to add advertising to generate revenue, refine the desktop and mobile products further, develop for new platforms including TV, and potentially raise more funding.

“We’ve started to meet with a few folks and Series A [funding round] is right around the corner,” Farmer said.

Soon, the company will also do something “significant” by further combining search and social results. Farmer kept details close to the chest, but hinted a little at what was coming.

“We’re combining [social and search] in a very significant update,” Farmer said. “We will bring social engagement to search.”


Filed under: Cloud
    


Can Leap2 really take on Google in search? ‘Probably not,’ but it’s still going to try

CloudBeat 2013
Sept. 9 - 10, 2013 San Francisco, CA
Early Bird Tickets on Sale

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Few U.S. startups are trying to reinvent search, and there’s a good reason for that. Google owns 67 percent of the market in the U.S. as smaller players like Bing and Yahoo fight for scraps.

But Kansas City, Kan.-based search startup Leap2 doesn’t seem to care that Google owns the market and knows exactly where it stands.

“Everybody wants to try to beat Google,” Leap2 director of product Tyler VanWinkle told me at its Google Fiber-equipped office space. “Is that a reality for us? Probably not. Let’s get real about that. … Google is really, really good at what Google does. They are good at PageRank and pulling up relevant articles. We feel like we’re doing something completely different from what Google is doing.”

While some might think Leap2 is already admitting defeat to the Google leviathan, let’s pull back a little.

Leap2 is one of a handful of startups making a splash in the quickly growing Kansas City startup scene, which has been given a recent spotlight thanks to Google’s decision to launch Google Fiber first in KC. The company raised $1.6 million back in late April, bringing its total raised to about $2 million.

The company was founded in early 2011 and has seven full-time employees. It has focused almost exclusively on making mobile search better with apps for iOS, Android, and Windows 8.

Just two and a half months ago, Leap2 quietly launched a desktop version. Looking at the desktop app for just a glance, you can see what Leap2 is trying to do. It’s a highly visual, almost Pinterest-like take on web search that uses some of Bing’s APIs for results. And it has been highly influenced by working on mobile search.

A single search on the desktop shows you previews of web pages, images, tweets, and more — all in different-sized boxes. Unlike Google, Bing, Yahoo, or DuckDuckGo, which focus mostly on text-based initial search results, Leap2 is about giving you a visual guide. For example, a search for “VentureBeat” on Leap2 shows recent articles, logos, tweets, and more.

Leap2 search results in the desktop browser
Sean Ludwig/VentureBeat

Leap2 search results in the desktop browser.

The engaging visual approach to search is one way Leap2 thinks it can make a mark in this sector. Another big goal is delivering real-time and social search like no one else. With Google not delivering Twitter results like it used to, Leap2 thinks it has an edge.

“My father would never look at or use Twitter,” Leap2 CEO Mike Farmer said. “But we did a search for ‘Lake Wilson fishing,’ and there was a tweet that said, ‘If you want to catch walleye, you need to be fishing at 60 feet of water.’ For him, it’s highly relevant. That’s what you get with Twitter [results].”

Another way Leap2 thinks it will stand out from the pack? Being the search engine of choice for a younger generation that eschews brands that are too big. With teens using Snapchat more than they use Facebook, why not encourage them to try Leap2 instead of Google or Bing?

“The younger generations don’t have the same kind of loyalty we have,” VanWinkle said. “They haven’t been using Google for 15 years. They’re not loyal, frankly. They want something different. They expect it to be dressed, sassy, sexy, bundled up, and highly consumable.”

Farmer said that the company’s has a lot to deal with for the near future. It has plans to add advertising to generate revenue, refine the desktop and mobile products further, develop for new platforms including TV, and potentially raise more funding.

“We’ve started to meet with a few folks and Series A [funding] is right around the corner,” Farmer said.

Soon, the company will also do something “significant” by further combining search and social results. Farmer kept details close to the chest, but hinted a little at what was coming.

“We’re combining [social and search] in a very significant update,” Farmer said. “We will bring social engagement to search.”


Filed under: Cloud
    


Pinterest Rival Fancy Gets Fancier With “Match By Color” Visual Search

visual-search-fancy-red

High-end design, fashion and travel-focused Pinterest rival The Fancy is rolling out several new features today, including a new slideshow option, the addition of four more languages, and a new visual search engine that allows users to search for items with similar colors.

The latter addition, which brings to mind the “search by color” feature over on crafty community Etsy or the new color search option on Fab.com, is powered by image recognition technology built by The Fancy itself.

Although some may not be aware, The Fancy was actually born out of CEO Joe Einhorn’s efforts to build an Internet of Things-type company, thingsD. The project aimed to crawl the web, identifying images based on text, shape, size and color. By late 2010, thingsd had hundreds of millions of items in its database, and was adding more than 2 million objects each week.

With the visual search, The Fancy’s team is able to build on top of their previous knowledge and skill set.

“This is complex, image recognition technology which we built ourselves, and goes back to our roots focusing on the internet of things,” explains Einhorn of the new visual search engine. “During our beta testing we’ve found it a big hit among our users focused on clothing and design.” He also notes that some other shopping sites let you search by keywords (like “blue,” for example) for discovery of similarly colored items, but don’t perform true object recognition to make the matches.

While the focus for the new search option seems to be aimed at improving the shopping experience on the site, the overall goal with visual search’s introduction sound a lot like what thingsd was up to in the past.

“We are trying to create a canonical catalog of things,” says Einhorn. “Each item on Fancy represents an item in the real world. We have various techniques to handle clustering and de-duplication, but, to date, those techniques have involved meta data around the items, not the images themselves…Soon we will be using image matching to help our de-duplication and clustering efforts.”

As for the additional languages, it was a matter of addressing the company’s need to better serve the high fashion community, Einhorn explains. Fancy’s lead investor in its $10 million round came from outside the Valley: PPR, the $25 billion French firm run by Francois Henri-Pinault which owns some of the biggest fashion brands in the world, including Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga. Today, The Fancy has social commerce integrations installed on the websites for Alexander McQueen, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and others. And its user base is global, making additions like French, Italian, Japanese and Chinese, logical next steps.

The company also recently arrived on Android and has now passed half a million members. Since the launch of its commerce platform, which lets merchants post deals directly on The Fancy’s website, over a thousand merchants have signed up and have listed over 500,000 deals. Some are for products as inexpensive as a $5 salt shaker, while others are for pricier items, like a $10,000 watch.

One designer, Jake Frey, was even able to leverage the site to gain attention for his magnetic light switch. After taking off on the site, Frey received a $250,000 angel investment to help start the business.

Einhorn says the site is now on pace to do some 10 million “fancies” (that means hitting the “Fancy it” button – same as “Pin It” on Pinterest) this month and expects to see 15 million next month, based on its current growth curve.

You can see some visual matches for blue jeans here and for a red backpack here.

The Fancy, already has several impressive supporters (e.g., Kanye), as well as board members like Jack Dorsey (Twitter, Square), Chris Hughes (Facebook), Jim Pallotta, and LeRoy Kim (partner at Allen & Co.). The startup’s investor line-up also includes top VCs Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, Allen & Co., General CatalystEsther Dyson, Celtics owner Jim Pallotta, MTV creator Bob Pittman, former eBay COO Maynard WebbEric EisnerJeff Samberg, and Ashton Kutcher.