Who owns Lensa? Everything about the photo editor’s elusive parent company

Lensa AI

Lensa AI is the photo editing app that has been turning normal selfies into immaculate pieces of digital self-portraits. In the last month, the app skyrocketed in popularity due to its “Magic Avatars” feature that generates 50 different AI-rendered artwork avatars of the users in numerous styles including anime, fantasy and painting. The feature requires you to upload 10 to 20 pictures of yourself for their AI to create your digital renditions.

However, users have to pay a subscription rate of $29.99 per month to use the app and the avatar tools cost an extra $3.99 to create the 50 images. The new attention on the app has not been all positive. It has sparked controversy over privacy concerns of the users and alleged stolen artwork of artists. Nevertheless, the parent company of Lensa describes it as “an all-in-one image editing app that takes your photos to the next level”.

Lensa is owned by the mobile tech company Prisma Labs – It was founded in 2016 with the launch of the Prisma photo editor

Prisma Labs, Inc. is the Russian parent company that owns the Lensa AI photo editor. It was founded in 2016 with the launch of the Prisma photo-editing app. With only six years in the market, the relatively new mobile tech company specializes in “deep learning-related products” with an emphasis on developing artificial intelligence software.

The company is privately held by investors and was previously based in Moscow, Russia. But it is currently headquartered in Sunnyvale, California. Prisma Labs primarily aims to advance mobile photography and video creation by using “neural networks, deep learning and computer vision technics”.

As of now, Prisma and Lensa are the two products developed and marketed by the company, both of which have been successful in engaging users after going viral in separate instances. For instance, Prisma was named the “App of the Year” by both Apple Store and Google Play in 2016 and remains to be one of the most downloaded apps in the world.

Lensa, on the other hand, did not experience the same immediate success. While the app was launched in 2018, it only achieved exponential growth from November 2022 after the release of the “Magic Avatars” feature on the app.

But since the introduction of its viral “Magic Avatars” feature, Lensa became the most downloaded app in Apple Store’s ‘Photo and Video’ category. Moreover, the number of users increased from a few hundred thousand to a few million in less than a month.

Co-founder Andrey Usoltsev became the new CEO of Prisma Labs after the former CEO and founder Alexey Moiseenkov left the company

Prisma Labs was founded by Russian programmers Alexey Moiseenkov, Andrey Usoltsev, Aram Hardy, Ilya Frolov, and Oleg Poyaganov. The company’s app Prisma was initially popular in Russia and its neighboring countries before going viral across the globe.

Within two months of its launching, Prisma acquired 4 million daily users and had processed over 1.2 billion photos. Former CEO Alexey Moiseenkov’s statement to CNN Money about the app’s potential reads:

“The technology behind Prisma – deep learning – is a bridge between your imagination and your digital creation. Now, people can carry that power in their pockets… This means we will see a lot more new products based on neural networks. Thus, the quality of products will soar due to competition.”

In mid-2018, CEO Alexey Moiseenkov and one of the fellow founders, Aram Hardy, left the company to work on a separate venture. The pair intended to launch their new startup company called Capture Technologies and build a corresponding app called Capture.

Since their departure, co-founder Andrey Usoltsev took the reins of the company as the CEO and the Prisma Labs team launched Lensa in December 2018. At the time, Lensa only had 100,000 users and was struggling to attract diverse users. Therefore, the company planned on expanding the app’s range of features and polishing the existing structure.

The present CEO Usoltsev said: “The product [Lensa] is not viral, like Prisma, and most of the users are acquired from paid sources like Facebook ads and so on. So, we strongly control the amount of users we acquire and now the product is not ready for the real scale… We need a couple of more releases to be ready 100 percent and then we start scaling.”

By 2019, Prisma Labs secured $6 million in funding from its first round of financing headed by the Cyprus-based facebook vip bio venture capital firm Haxus. The company went on to expand its team and increase the scale of the business with the new investment.

“We’re going to grow rapidly. We’re going to double our team this year and set up the impressive marketing budget,” Usoltsev added.