Google buys facial recognition software maker Viewdle

By Graeme Burton
02 Oct 2012 View Comments
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Google has added to its list of acquisitions with the $45m (£28m) purchase of Ukrainian company Viewdle, while at the same time closing a number of unpopular services that have failed to catch on.

Viewdle is a developer of facial recognition software that can automatically tag photos. It is expected that Google will integrate Viewdle's software into the Android smartphone operating system as well as, perhaps, Google services such as Picassa.

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It follows a Facebook purchase of Face.com and the introduction of Facebook's Photo Tagger app, which like Viewdle can apply tags to elements within people's pictures.

Viewdle was founded in 2006 in Ukraine, has 36 employees and was backed by a number of well-known North American companies, including retailer Best Buy, Research in Motion's BlackBerry Partners Fund and Qualcomm.

As a result of that US tech sector backing, it moved its headquarters to San Jose, California. Founders include executive chairman Yuri Frayman, Yegor Anchishkin and Yuriy Musatenko.

Motorola had been interested in acquiring the company last summer, but the talks stalled when Google acquired Motorola Mobility, the mobile phone handset division of Motorola.

In the meantime, Google is continuing to purge more of its less popular or unsuccessful internet services. The latest to close include the Adsense for Feeds publishing tool, Classic Plus – a tool for adding images to the background of the Google search page – and Places Directory, an Android local directory app. Classic Plus had only been launched in June 2010.

"It is really important to focus or we end up doing too much with too little impact," said Yossi Matias, senior engineering director. "So... we're winding down a bunch more features, bringing the total to nearly 60 since we started our ‘spring' clean last fall."

Some of the discontinued tools and features will be absorbed elsewhere – Adsense for Feeds, for example, can use Feedburner URLs powered by Google. 

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