Image and video technology startup Cortica has raised $1.5 million from the Mail.Ru group to help fund its Image2Text visual search technology. The company says that the new funding is part of a larger round lead by other investors.
An Israel-based company, Cortica was founded in 2007 with a goal to change the way computers approach images and videos. It is developing technology that stimulates the human cortex to help computers recognize images “with the highest degree of accuracy.”
Cortica is targeting advertisers, networks, and publishers. It believes that with Image2Text, ads can become more relevant when placed with the appropriate image or video. If you’re looking at the Arc de Triumphe, for example, an ad for Travelocity might appear with an airline special to fly to Paris. The belief is that the more relevant the placement, the higher the click-through and conversion, resulting in a win-win for all parties.
“Cortica’s breakthrough technology provides a degree of recognition and understanding accuracy that is comparable with that of the human brain,” says Mor Yegerman, Head of International M&A at Mail.ru Group. “And we are happy to support Cortica in this exciting development.”
The funding by the Mail.Ru Group is a big win for Cortica because it gives the company access to a firm that also happens to be the leading Internet company in the Russian-speaking market — a sizable one at that, since Mail.Ru’s sites reach approximately 86 percent of all Russian-speaking Internet users. If anything, Cortica just got access to a rather large sample size it can test its technology.
And it’s not just websites, but also social tools and networks that Mail.Ru can give Cortica access to. The investment firm operates two of the three largest Russian networks: Odnoklassniki and My World. This is on top of instant messaging tools, Mail.Ru Agent and ICQ, the leading email service, and the country’s largest online gaming platform.
“We are really excited to work with Mail.Ru Group,” says Igal Raichelgauz, co-founder and CEO of Cortica. “Mail.ru shares our vision for leveraging Image2Text technology for visual search and contextual advertising and taking users’ web surfing experience to a whole new level. Mail.ru has the depth and breadth of market penetration to expose much larger audiences to Cortica’s technology.”
Cortica last raised $7 million in funding back in August 2012 from Horizons Ventures, a firm owned by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing, and Ynon Kriez, the former chairman and CEO of the Endermol Group.
To date, the company has raised $8.5 million in venture funding.
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