Ever wanted to work for a secretive startup that began as an obscure military research project in the Ukraine? Now's your chance, because Viewdle is coming to market with its facial recognition software.
The company is looking for product managers and business development people in its new San Jose, Calif., HQ, after raising a $10 million funding round.
Viewdle expects to expand its six-person Silicon Valley staff to between 12 and 15 people within six months, CEO Laurent Gil said.
The company also plans to hire another 10 engineers at its product development hub in the Ukraine, where it has 43 technology workers, including 31 engineers.
"We're hiring aggressively to launch our products," said Gil, a former investment banker with the French financial giant Credit Agricole. "We hired six people last week," he said.
Viewdle wants its product and marketing managers in the U.S. to know the mobile market and to have "an entrepreneurial, curious mind," Gil said.
Because the company is building a product that no one has ever created before, it plans to launch it with a minimum feature set and then let its customers dictate what features should be added later.
For that reason, Gil wants employees who aren't set in their ways about how to build and market software products.
"I like people to surprise me," Gil said, referring to his employees. "I want to be surprised all the time."
While Viewdle is keeping its exact product specifications a closely held secret, Gil said the company has conducted focus groups in the Ukraine and the U.S. for a "picture-sharing product for Facebook" that can share a picture the moment it is taken.
"We cracked the problem of facial recognition," Gil said, adding that Viewdle's visual-recognition technology is drawing interest from companies in the market for image processing and video editing software.
The company will either market its product directly to consumers or license its technology to "image software companies," he said.
Viewdle's latest funding round brings its total "institutional funding" to $12.5 million, Gil said, in addition to the bootstrap funding it received in its early days from "Ukranian-American angel investors," including Yuri Frayman, Viewdle's former CEO.
The startup's products are based on computer-vision algorithms that research scientist Mikhail Schlesinger developed for military and defense applications at the Cybernetics Institute in Kiev, Ukraine.
Write to John Shinal
SAN JOSE, CA -- 10/05/10 -- Viewdle (http://www.viewdle.com), the leading independent consumer-focused facial recognition company, today announced that it has raised $10 million in Series B funding from Best Buy, BlackBerry Partners Fund and Qualcomm. Viewdle's Series A investor Anthem Venture Partners also participated in this new funding round. This new investment will be used for the launch of new consumer products over the coming months. In conjunction with this investment, Best Buy Capital's Kuk Yi and John Albright from BlackBerry Partners Fund will join Viewdle's Board.
Viewdle has developed the only commercially available technology capable of real-time, cross-platform visual analysis at the point of capture. Viewdle's patented facial recognition system automatically identifies faces in videos and photos across mobile phones, computers and in the cloud. The technology has been independently benchmarked as the fastest and most efficient available. It is the result of more than fifteen years of research and three years of commercial productization.
"Viewdle is the only company that enables the identification of faces on any device. This new investment allows us to roll out exciting new consumer applications on our platform. With the world's largest independent visual analysis research team, we will also continue to invest in technology innovation," said Viewdle co-Founder and CEO Laurent Gil.
"For consumers, it's all about real-time. Viewdle is leading the market by creating compelling consumer experiences that are both real-time and cross-platform -- that is why we invested in the company," commented Kuk Yi, vice president, Best Buy Capital, Best Buy Co., Inc.
Viewdle's chief product officer Jason Mitura continued: "The technology enables a better and simpler way for consumers to organize, manage, and share their personal media across converged devices."
"The majority of smartphones are now equipped with built-in video recorders and cameras -- Viewdle enables consumers to quickly and accurately organize their photos and videos at the point of capture," said John Albright, co-managing partner, BlackBerry Partners Fund. "Viewdle fits perfectly with our investment mandate, and we look forward to working closely with them to drive innovation throughout the mobile industry."
"Viewdle has made exceptional strides in advancing the field of visual analysis, a capability that holds a myriad of potential mobile applications," said Nagraj Kashyap, vice president of Qualcomm Ventures. "The company's sophisticated technology and seasoned management make Viewdle very well positioned in the market."