TEL AVIV–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Visual Layer announced today $7 million in seed financing from Madrona and Insight Partners to curate the massive sets of visual data used to train, test, and fine-tune generative AI models. The endemic problem of images and videos that are incorrectly labeled or are broken, missing, or duplicates means that they degenerate model quality. As these datasets have grown to over 10 billion visual assets, it has become impractical and even impossible to curate them efficiently. Visual Layer addresses this challenge directly through a managed service that curates and “cleans” the data, enabling scientists and ML practitioners to produce higher-quality models and results.
Computer vision researchers know that the quality of AI models is directly a result of the quality of the data on which they are trained. Visual Layer has found that up to 30% of these massive image and video collections, amounting to hundreds of millions of assets, fall into this ‘messy’ category and are skewing models that businesses and organizations are leveraging for products and services, causing downstream headaches, missed opportunities and wasted valuable engineering cycles.
“Companies and organizations across the globe are experiencing the explosion of data, and visual data is one of the most complex and challenging data types to manage. Understanding, curating, and managing this content is crucial to building meaningful services for customers in a broad set of industries – from retail to manufacturing to self-driving cars and more,” commented Danny Bickson, co-founder and CEO. “Companies are struggling with those huge amounts of data; they often have no clue where their data is and what is inside it. They develop homegrown tools since there is no infrastructure or common standards.”
Visual Layer founders Danny Bickson and Amir Alush led sophisticated computer vision teams at Apple and Brodmann17. They dealt with these data quality problems daily and attempted to neutralize them with advanced science. But they discovered that almost no amount of science could make up for the underlying issues in the data. It is more beneficial to focus on the data quality itself rather than relying on dirty data and trying to optimize the algorithms. Dealing with messy data on the front end avoids many issues that the team found unsolvable in their previous roles.
Visual Layer is built on top of the open-source package fastdup, which was created by the same team. fastdup has a growing community of 200,000 early adopters. That community includes enterprises such as Meesho, an Indian social commerce platform where 13 million resellers transact. “Meesho is using fastdup to improve the quality of our image gallery of 200 million products and automatically detect and fix data quality issues,” said Srinvassa Rao Jami, lead computer vision manager at Meesho.
“Despite the idea that bigger datasets mean better models when it comes to images and video, messy underlying datasets can produce suboptimal models and error-prone results. Now with the reality of large-scale AI models, we must solve the data problem. The immediate excitement we saw after the launch of fastdup made clear to us that customers agree. We are excited to work with the Visual Layer team and the fastdup community to build a new, foundational component of the AI application stack,” said Jon Turow, Partner at Madrona.
“The growing adoption of generative AI models has created a growing need for reliable visual datasets to train them. With their innovative technology, Visual Layer enables engineers and data scientists to quickly identify and fix issues with visual training data, allowing for more accurate generative models to come to market quicker. Insight is thrilled to partner with Danny and the Visual Layer team on this exciting next chapter in the company’s growth journey,” said Liad Agmon, Managing Director at Insight Partners.
To learn more, sign up to access Visual Layer at https://visual-layer.com.
Visual Layer is led by a team of experienced professionals with a proven track record in the visual data management and computer vision industry. Our co-founders are Dr. Danny Bickson and Dr. Amir Alush, who bring years of industry experience and academic expertise to the team, and Carlos Guestrin, a CS professor at Stanford University and a world-renowned expert in machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Madrona (www.madrona.com) is a venture capital firm with over 25 years of investing in early-stage technology companies, the firm has worked with founders from Day One to help build their company for the long run. Madrona initially invests in seed and Series A rounds across the information technology spectrum and in acceleration stage (Series B and C) companies building intelligent applications. Madrona manages $3 billion and was an early investor in companies such as Amazon, Smartsheet, Snowflake, Apptio, Redfin, and UI Path. Based in Seattle, with a substantial Pacific NW footprint, the firm has an office in Menlo Park and invests across the US.
About Insight Partners
Insight Partners is a global software investor partnering with high-growth technology, software, and Internet startup and ScaleUp companies that are driving transformative change in their industries. As of December 31, 2022, the firm has over $75B in regulatory assets under management. Insight Partners has invested in more than 750 companies worldwide and has seen over 55 portfolio companies achieve an IPO. Headquartered in New York City, Insight has offices in London, Tel Aviv, and Palo Alto. Insight’s mission is to find, fund, and work successfully with visionary executives, providing them with right-sized, right-time practical, hands-on software expertise along their growth journey, from their first investment to IPO. For more information on Insight and all its investments, visit insightpartners.com or follow us on Twitter @insightpartners.