Word has it that Facebook has caught the scent of yet another high-value acquisition target. It is rumored that the social network plans to acquire facial recognition startup Face.com for a sum ranging between 80 and 100 million dollars.
If these early speculations have some merit to them then Face is a relative bargain at about a tenth of what the social network paid for Instagram. While its technology is somewhat more mature, the 5 year old company has yet to come up with a way to successfully monetize its offering either.
Face labels itself as the number one facial recognition service on the market, with hundreds of millions of faces recognized to date according to the company’s website. It offers an open API to developers that want to integrate the technology into their own apps, and operates a number of services of its own including the PhotoTagger Facebook application.
The reasons behind the buyout buzz, even if it’s nothing more it than just that, are very solid. The firms have a track record of collaborating on facial recognition software over the course of the past couple of years, and the latter has displayed a very strong interest in this area for even longer
Facebook first introduced a photo tagging tool based on such technology in 2010, and in effect Face’s app competed with the social network’s native features. But this relationship changed to some extent in mid-2011, when the companies first announced they’re integrating they’re platforms.
Since then the social media kingpin’s involvement in this area has mostly been brought up in the legal context. German officials weren’t happy about facial recognition’s potential for privacy violation that, and promptly deemed it illegal in spite of the fact it is offered as optional functionality.