Snap Inc.

Snap continues its acquisition spree with video animation startup

Photo: DENIS CHARLET/AFP via Getty Images

Snapchat's parent company confirmed to Axios that it has acquired AI Factory, the Ukrainian startup it worked with to develop its new "Cameos" feature that maps selfies onto videos, deepfake-style, a deal first reported by Ukraine tech publication AIN.UA.

Why it matters: Snap has a long history of smartly acquiring small, innovative startups to feed its product development. In 2015, Snap acquired AI Factory founder Victor Shaburov's previous company, Looksery, to use its facial feature detection and manipulation tech as the basis for one of Snapchat's most successful features, "Lenses."

Snapchat is a cautionary tale against leaving unicorns for dead

A unicorn carries the Snapchat symbol by its horns
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Before Lyft or Uber or WeWork, there was Snapchat. A red-hot, multi-billion dollar startup that melted upon contact with the public markets.

Why it matters: It's a cautionary tale for those who are quick to leave the 2019 cohort for dead. Snap shared many of the unfavorable traits of those that would follow. Giant losses, unclear path to profitability, and a CEO whose hubris and poor communication skills had damaged both morale and product development.