Today, Il Makiage announced it will acquire 2-year-old Israel-based AI-based computational imaging company Voyage81 to build the brand’s technological capabilities. The $40 million accquisition comes at a time as Il Makiage prepares for massive and rapid expansion.
Since Il Makiage’s relaunch in 2018, the splashy, high-performance cosmetic brand has expanded to skincare and plans to launch a standalone wellness brand by the end of the year (initially this launch was planned for the second quarter of 2021). Voyage81’s technology will be a core element of an undisclosed third brand, which will arrive at an undetermined date. The L Catterton-backed Il Makiage is expected to earn more than $250 million in sales in 2021 and is profitable, according to a brand spokesperson. Il Makiage has also expressed interest in pursuing an IPO and is still in preparations, said Oran Holtzman, Il Makiage CEO.
“For the past two years, we have been searching for computational imaging solutions that can work in beauty and wellness to advance our existing AI capabilities,” said Holtzman. “Voyage81’s hyperspectral [imaging] technology will be used in Il Makiage and Il Makiage Skin, but not less importantly — we will integrate the technology in our new homegrown digital brands.”
Voyage81’s proprietary algorithms and machine learning processes are able to extract a hyperspectral image from a standard cellphone camera that contains a wider spectrum of light and colors than the typical red, green and blue color scheme available on smartphones. This hyperspectral imaging collects hundreds of images at different wavelengths and is key to analyzing skin and hair features, detecting blood flow in the face, and deciphering the melanin and hemoglobin content of a person’s skin.
“We’re not only able to see more colors or more wavelengths than the standard camera, but we’re opening up a whole world of material sensing [to detect and quantify skin features],” said Dr. Boaz Arad, Voyage81’s co-founder and CTO. “Originally we founded Voyage81 to support the automotive industry, but as we developed the technology we realized that it could provide a lot of value for many other industries, particularly for beauty and wellness.”
In the case of Il Makiage, the e-commerce brand can apply this technology to its online product shade matching offerings as well as to future brands. In March 2019, the Israel-based brand debuted a shade-matching quiz for its 50 foundation shades, which boasted 90% accuracy. In July 2019, the brand re-platformed its e-commerce site and creating a one-stop shop for discovery, beauty tutorials with micro-influencers, and trial and purchase.
“The addition of these vision capabilities provides another dimension of information which will allow us to rapidly expand our capabilities in existing and future domains with a lower amount of data needed,” said Holtzman.
Eighteen people from Voyage81’s team will join Il Makiage. Niv Price, Voyage81 co-founder and CEO, will become Il Makiage’s chief technology officer. Arad will become Il Makiage’s chief vision officer and Omer Shwartz, Voyage81’s co-founder and software lead, will be become Il Makiage’s vp of information security.
In addition to its software, Voyage81 is developing with three cellphone makers a hardware item within a phone to improve traditional cellphone images as well as more readily produce hyperspectral images, said Arad. Its launch timeline is undetermined. Other brands have attempted similar projects. In 2018, Neutrogena created an attachable $60 phone device called a SkinScanner to improve skin analysis that paired with a Neutrogena skin analysis app.