ImagenAI, which uses AI to personalize photo editing styles, lands $30M • TechCrunch

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ImagenAI, which uses AI to personalize photo editing styles, lands $30M • TechCrunch

ImagenAI, a startup that uses AI to help professional photographers edit photos and automate post-production work, announced today that it has raised $30 million in an all-equity growth investment from Summit Partners. The new capital brings Imagen’s total raised to $34 million, and co-founder and CEO Yotam Gil tells TechCrunch that it will be used to expand the startup’s software-as-a-service offering through mergers and acquisitions and product research and development.

Imagen’s success comes as investors grow increasingly bullish on AI tools to generate and edit artwork, including photorealistic art. Cupixel, whose AI technology takes images to create outlines of the photo for drawings or paintings, recently raised $5 million. Meanwhile, Runway ML, which is developing an AI-powered creative suite for artists and has been a major research contributor to the text-to-image AI Stable Diffusion, landed $50 million in early December.

Imagen was founded in 2020 by Gil, Ron Oren (former head of Sinsense’s R&D department) and Yoav Chai (formerly a Mellanox chip designer), inspired by Chai’s experience of waiting months for his wedding photos. In conversation with photographers, the co-founders say that they realized a major pain point in the industry: post-production is repetitive and time-consuming. Because each photographer has their own style, the process is not necessarily easy to automate with existing tools.

The solution they came up with – Imagen (not to be confused with Google’s Imagen) – aims to learn a photographer’s personal style based on around 3,000 examples of their past work. Available as a cloud-based plug-in for Adobe Lightroom Classic, ImagenAI taps into machine learning to try to capture editing styles and predict dozens of different editing parameters, taking about half a second—and $0.05 per photo—to to complete editing.

ImagenAI’s user interface within Adobe Lightroom. Image credits: ImagenAI

Gil explains that Imagen’s editing profiles evolve over time and theoretically become more personalized as Imagen processes photos in various scenes and lighting conditions. The platform captures more than 150 million photos annually for “tens of thousands” of customers worldwide, he said.

“Image profiles evolve and learn with the user over time, enabling better accuracy and consistency in applying each photographer’s style to new photos captured in Imagen,” said Gil. “Any photographer who edits at scale and spends a lot of time in post-production can benefit from time and cost savings while maintaining quality.”

Imagen also provides pre-trained profiles, called Talent AI profiles, based on “industry-leading” photographers’ unique editing styles. Gil claims they are tested on a large database of photos to ensure they deliver consistent results.

“Before Imagen, photographers could either manually edit or outsource to an editing service, which is expensive, has a long turnaround time and does not offer a guarantee of the results’ consistency,” said Gil. “Imagen democratizes professional photography post-production, eliminating the need for multiple professional photo editors to process a brand’s visual assets, and enables photography assets to become available and usable much faster.”

Gil says that Imagen is currently profitable, with more than $10 million in annual recurring revenue coming in. In the near term, the company plans to introduce a “thinning” product that will select the best photos from a photo shoot and a local adjustment tool to identify specific parts in photos, such as subjects, to apply different editing adjustments .

When asked about competitors (besides manual outsourcing, of course), Gil admits that Adobe for one maintains a number of AI image editing tools in its products, most notably Lightroom. But he argues that none are as personalized or customizable as Imagen — at least not yet.

ImagenAI

Image credits: ImagenAI

“Imagen’s ability to edit with a user’s own style, and to tailor editing to each photo based on the photo’s characteristics, adds great value to the user,” said Gil. “[With Imagen,] photographers can improve their earning potential by creating more valuable time to shoot and less time wasted on editing. As inflation and macroeconomic trends affect personal spending on events like weddings and corporate budgets for things like advertising campaigns, efficiency will be even more critical to achieving scale.”

Steffan K. Peyer, the managing director at Summit Partners, unsurprisingly disagrees.

“There are more than a million professional photographers out there — plus many more aspiring enthusiasts — and many are limited by the immense burden of manual post-production work associated with each photo shoot,” he said by email. “With growth in digital assets and increasing expectations for both higher quality and greater volume of professional images, the Imagen team has built a platform that uses proprietary, personalized machine learning technology that was previously not possible at scale.”

Imagen, which has 50 employees worldwide, expects to double the size of its workforce next year.

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