Snap, the parent company of the popular iOS and Android social media app Snapchat, has announced its acquisition of video animation startup AI Factory for a reported price of $166 million.
The Ukrainian AI Factory is the team behind Snapchat’s popular new Cameos selfie-based video feature, through which deepfake-like videos of the user are generated based on a selfie taken within the app.
With Cameos, the user takes a selfie that is then automatically animated and placed in a short video by the app’s algorithms. There are currently around 150 different videos to choose from — all created by Snap — and the resulting animation bares a resemblance to the concept behind “deepfakes”, in which AI-based videos look real but are actually entirely generated by algorithms.
AI Factory’s founder Victor Shaburov was also behind Ukrainian startup Looksery — which was also acquired by Snap in 2015 to enhance its selfie lenses — and went on to become Snapchat’s director of engineering before leaving in May of 2018 to found AI Factory.
Though it has offices in San Francisco, most of AI Factory’s team work out of their main offices in Ukraine, with many of them expected to relocate to the US as part of the new deal with Snapchat.