Pinterest acquires visual search startup VisualGraph to help improve discovery and recommendations

Pinterest acquires visual search startup VisualGraph to help improve discovery and recommendations

Pinterest has acquired image recognition and visual search platform startup VisualGraph. The company’s two employees will be joining the interest-based social network’s engineering team starting today. It’s said that VisualGraph’s technology will be used to better assess what users are pinning on the social network and help improve recommendations and discovery.

Not only is the VisualGraph team joining the Pinterest fold, but they’ll be leading the social networking company’s new visual discovery team. Jing helped build Google’s first machine vision application back in the early 2000s and Liu spent time at Google, Facebook, and Palantir working as an intern as he completed his computer science degree at Stanford.

Started by former Google employee Kevin Jing along with David Liu, VisualGraph has been searching for ways to better connect the billions of photos and images together. It believes that by combining its “state-of-the-art machine vision tools” with large-scale distributed search and machine learning infrastructures, it’ll be able to help people find all the images that are inspirational.

As Pinterest is all about the interest graph, including improved image recognition technology could surely help users find more images, links, and things that fascinate them and share them with others. Or, as some have noted, it could help with ads, something that Pinterest has said it is working on right now.

Here’s VisualGraph’s response to the acquisition:

Not all images are created equal:  while billions of photos are shared everyday, only a portion of them (e.g. arts & crafts, trending designs) has the potential to motivate, captivate and inspire large number of people.   If all the worlds’ images were connected as a graph in some way, these would be the most special nodes.

Our mission at VisualGraph is to connect these inspirational images together.   While a single image can captivate and inspire, a network of connected images allows for inspiration, exploration and discovery at scale.   Our approach is to combine the state-of-the-art machine vision tools, such as object recognition (e.g. shoes, faces), with large-scale distributed search and machine learning infrastructures.

And today we couldn’t be more excited to announce that we are joining Pinterest!

On Pinterest, millions of people are curating and sharing billions of Pins everyday.   And these Pins are more than just images — they link to contents that can inspire and enrich people’s lives.   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.

We like to thank the employees, contractors, advisers, and investors who have supported us.  We will be joining the Pinterest today and can’t wait for what’s next!

If you are interested in joining our effort, please send us a note!

— Kevin Jing, David Liu

Photo credit: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

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