Rakuten Ventures leads $3.5M Series A round for Singapore-based ViSenze

By Nicel Jane Avellana

Feb 19, 2014 07:52 AM EST

Rakuten Ventures, the venture capital arm of Internet services firm Rakuten, led the $3.5 million Series A for ViSenze, TechCrunch reported. The round was also participated in by Walden International and UOB Venture Management.

Information from the website of ViSenze showed that the startup was spun off from NExT, the research center that was put up jointly by the National University of Singapore and Tsinghua University of China. By utilizing advanced "visual recognition technology and visual driven analytics," the startup intends to release the intelligence taken from "any rich visual content."

ViSenze said in the website, "Through continuous large-scale rapid machine learning and practical Research & Development based on real-world problems, ViSenze helps today's digital businesses address inherent challenges of fast-growing visual content across web, mobile and social media platforms."

TechCrunch reported that one of the products of ViSenze is a visual search tool based on the cloud known as ViSearch which could possibly enable Tokyo-based Rakuten to include image recognition features to its applications and websites. Rakuten has purchased Webgistix, a logistics firm based in the US, and rolled out its Kobo e-reader, in its efforts to compete with Amazon and other e-commerce firms outside Asia, the report said.

The investment in ViSenze is also worth noting since it runs along similar lines with the interest of Amazon in image recognition technology. Earlier this month, the e-commerce giant has made it more convenient for shoppers to compare better deals while they are shopping in brick-and-mortar establishments with the shopping by camera functionality it has included in its iOS app, the report said.

Seven months ago, ViSenze said it had already begun working together with Rakuten Taiwan for the introduction of visual fashion search and recognition tools on the social and shopping platform. This has been a hectic month for Rakuten which announced the acquisition of Viber last week and the opening of its first research and development center in Europe today, the report said.

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