Ukrainian deepfake startup RefaceAI raises $5.5 million from top Silicon Valley investors

Andreessen Horowitz, a top Silicon Valley venture firm, has led a $5.5 million seed round for Ukrainian deep tech entertainment startup Reface. Other participants in the deal include prominent angel investors across the gaming, music, film/content creation and tech industries, TechCrunch reports.

Reface has developed a technology for face-swapping, allowing users to turn their selfies into realistic famous video clips by celebrities. 

The startup uses the GAN (generative adversarial networks) methodology, which “works fast and requires only one photo to make a high-quality face-swap.” 

The technology also has B2B applications in the fields of advertising and marketing, media, streaming, game development, video production industries in particular. These tools allow creators to “produce great content while keeping the costs down,” Reface says.

Reface pursues a deeper goal: to “build the first social platform of dynamically personalized media content empowered with machine learning technology.”  

In an exchange with TechCrunch this past summer, Reface co-founder and CEO said: “What’s interesting about new-gen social networks [like TikTok] is that people can both be like consumers and providers at the same time… So in our case people will also be able to be providers and consumers but on the next level because they will have the technology to allow themselves to feel themselves in the content.”

Reface claims its apps have been downloaded some 70 million times since launch in January 2020, and ranked among the top apps on the AppStore and Google Play. 

The Ukrainian startup claims it can “guarantee responsible use of AI technology” through an in-house fake videos detection tool.

Mogylnyi co-founded the startup with Ivan Altsybeiev, Yaroslav Boyko, Denys Dmytrenko, Oles Petriv, Dima Shvets and Kyrylo Syhyda. 

As previously reported by Ukraine Digital News, the ancestor of RefaceAI was first established in 2011 by Oles Petriv, Denis Dmitrenko, Roman Mogylnyi and Yaroslav Boiko. The company was called Neocortext. At first they focused on using machine learning for sentiment analysis in texts, creating a system of language dynamics analysis and multilingual language tone analysis, but by 2018 the company took a different turn with their new software called Reflect Faceswap based on AI-face replacement technology. 

In 2019, Dmitry Shvets, who had been a managing partner of a successful seed-stage venture capital fund, was invited by the team to become a cofounder of the company, which was rebranded to RefaceAI.

  • You may listen to a recent interview with Dmitry Shvets here 
Topics: AI & Big Data, Finance, International, Startups, Venture/Private equity
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