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September 27, 2010

Facial Recognition Company Receives Funding from Russia's Largest Search Engine

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

Facial recognition technology, it would appear, is hot property. Yandex, the operator of Russia’s largest search engine, today announced it has invested in a Tel-Aviv-based facial recognition technology startup called has now raised $4.3 million in Series B funding. The previous round was led by investment company Rhodium.

Yandex confirmed with TechCrunch that it is now working with on a “large joint project,” but did not elaborate further. In addition, Yandex CEO Arkady Volozh has joined the's board of directors., which was founded in 2007, has developed a number of facial recognition applications for Facebook (News - Alert) such as PhotoTagger and PhotoFinder, which is currently in private alpha mode. Social networking Websites often use facial recognition applications to help users identify individuals in photos and easily tag (News - Alert) then for sharing across social media networks. told TechCrunch that its technology has helped users scan more than seven billion photos and that it this year launched a developer community and open API, providing third-party developers access to their core facial recognition technology. CEO Gil Hirsch issued a statement regarding the announcement. “ has indeed accepted a round of funding,” he said. “The total amount is $4.3 million, and the participants included Rhodium, Yandex, and current private investors. We’re going to use the money to boost our development team, hire some new and talented people, and build out additional infrastructure to support our facial recognition platform. We’ve had thousands of developers sign up to join our platform and get access to our facial recognition APIs, and we want to support those developers and provide great technology. We’re excited and very proud to have the support from our investors.”

Last week, a rumor swirled that Apple (News - Alert) had acquired Swedish facial recognition company Polar Rose for $29 million. The acquisition is expected to allow Apple to extend Web applications like its MobileMe collection of online services. Having its very own facial recognition technology would also allow Apple to use it in products like iPhoto and Aperture and iOS-based applications that require facial recognition capabilities.

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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