Pinterest acquires VisualGraph to beef up visual search

While it has been actively seeking new areas for growth, Pinterest is playing to one of its core strengths — visual search — by acquiring two-person startup VisualGraph. The company will join Pinterest in the engineering department, where it will fortify the company’s image search system.

Pinterest has not disclosed the amount of the acquisition, but did share some details about what the VisualGraph’s Kevin Jing and David Liu will be doing at their new home. Jing will be heading the company’s new “visual discovery team,” likely adding onto the technology built while at VisualGraph. Jing and Liu have experience in object recognition, distributed search and machine learning, which, when combined, make searching for photos by context much easier. As Pinterest continues to expand its content, smart search is key to keeping the platform usable. 

The Pinterest’s Annie Ta wrote in an email to Gigaom:

The acquisition of VisualGraph will help us build technology to better understand what people are Pinning. By doing so, we hope to make it easier for people to find the things they love.

Jing and Liu wrote a goodbye post on their website:

On Pinterest, millions of people are curating and sharing billions of Pins everyday. And these Pins are more than just images — they link to contents that can inspire and enrich people’s lives. We are excited for the opportunity to combine machine vision with human vision and curation, and to build a visual discovery experience that is both aesthetically appealing and immensely useful for people everywhere.

From the outset, it seems like a beneficial deal for both parties: VisualGraph continues to explore the same technologies with the support of a company valued at $3.8 billion, and Pinterest gains enhancements to the image search system that it has always touted for its intelligence.