Yesterday Snapchat announced the launch of “Lenses,” a new feature that enables users to create a variety face effects while making selfies. These augmented reality filters will allow you to change eye or skin color, alter your face to remove blemishes or look thinner.
Behind these new types of avatars is a technology developed by Looksery, a startup originated from Odessa, Ukraine, with offices in San Francisco.
The startup itself has been acquired by Snapchat with Looksery’s team joining the company. The details of the transaction have not been disclosed, but AIN.UA, an authoritative Ukrainian tech blog, heard it amounted to “around $150 million.”
If true, the figure makes the acquisition the biggest in the Ukrainian tech industry’s history.
Looksery was founded in 2013 by Ukrainian serial entrepreneur Viktor Shaburov. Its technology instantly became a hit in Mexico, Ukraine, Greece, Russia, Brazil, Chile and many other countries when it was launched in October 2014.
A few months before, Looksery had led a successful campaign on Kickstarter. It also took third place in the startup competition at IDCEE 2014.
With offices in the USA, Ukraine and Russia, Looksery now has more than 45 employees.
Beyond its entertainment dimension, the Looksery technology may be applied to corporate clients. For example, the service may be of use to call centers for video support and to improve appearances during video conferences. The use of 3D avatars in video support will reduce the volume of traffic by 98%, according to Looksery.
The startup’s technology may also be interesting to manufacturers of mobile devices, operators, cosmetic companies, brands, and movie studios.
“This is the future of video communication,” said Shaburov last year in an exchange with Ukraine Digital News.
Update Feb. 6, 2017 – Snap’s SEC Registration Statement to prepare its IPO confirmed that the US company had paid $150 million to acquire Looksery.