Mike Isaac

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Facebook Acquires Facial Recognition Technology Company Face.com For Nearly $60 Million


Updated 1:37 PST with price
After rumors of a deal have swirled for weeks, Facebook has officially acquired facial recognition technology company Face.com.

It’s a complete acquisition, which means both talent and technology will now become Facebook’s in the deal. Though the exact terms of the deal were not disclosed, other outlets have reported the price in the neighborhood of $100 million. However, I’m hearing from two sources familiar with the terms of the deal that Face.com actually sold for a significantly lower amount, approximately $55 to $60 million in cash and stock (though it is unclear if this price is with or without an earnout included).

Neither Facebook nor Face.com would comment on the terms of the deal, which is expected to close in the coming weeks.

Founded in 2007, the Israel-based start-up offers both desktop and mobile products which scan a user’s photos to identify faces, essentially making tagging photos with people’s names much simpler. And Facebook has no dearth of photos to scan — at last count, users on average upload approximately 300 million new photos to Facebook’s site every day.

Currently, Facebook’s tagging suggestion feature does not work for mobile devices as well as it does on desktops, so it’s possible that Face.com could make it faster for mobile users to tag from their mobile uploads with less friction. And that timing makes sense, considering that Facebook just recently launched Camera, a standalone photo app that makes it even easier for users to snap and upload photos to Facebook without going through the cumbersome — and, frankly, rather clunky and slow — iOS and Android applications.

It’s unclear whether Face.com will shutter its site — which has a public API — immediately, though in its acquisition blog post, CEO Gil Hirsch says his company will continue to support third-party developers who use the Face.com API.

“People who use Facebook enjoy sharing photos and memories with their friends,” a Facebook spokesperson told AllThingsD in a statement. “Face.com’s technology has helped to provide the best photo experience. This transaction simply brings a world-class team and a long-time technology vendor in house.”

Shares of Facebook were trading up 6.5 percent on the news Monday afternoon.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik