Paris-based Meero said today it has raised $230 million in venture capital for its AI-driven photography platform, pushing the company past a valuation of $1 billion.
Founded in 2016, Meero wants to reinvent the market for professional photography by using artificial intelligence to process large batches of images for businesses like ecommerce or travel. Its platform connects professional photographers with clients and then uses AI to handle most of the post-production.
In a business world increasingly reliant on images to promote services and products around the globe, Meero seems to have hit on a need that is driving rapid growth. The massive size of the round, one of Europe’s largest this year, will catapult the company into the small ranks of French unicorns, which the country is hoping to grow significantly in the coming years.
CEO and founder Thomas Rebaud said the size of the round was a testament not just to the company’s growth, but to its global ambitions.
“If you want to make it happen quickly, we need to invest in many different things at the same time,” he said.
The latest round was led by Eurazeo, Prime Ventures, and Avenir Growth, but also included participation from past investors Global Founders Capital, Aglaé Ventures, Alven, White Star Capital, and Idinvest. It follows a previous fundraising of $45 million last year, and brings the company’s total to $300 million.
Meero says it now has 31,000 clients in about 100 countries. Customers include Just Eat, Expedia, Trivago, and Uber.
Rebaud said that historically, when big brands needed large numbers of photos taken around the world, they faced a huge task of finding local photographers and then ensuring consistency of look and style in the editing process. A single photographer retouching hundreds of photos via Photoshop, for instance, would take ages and still not achieve the desired degree of consistency, he said.
Meero automates much of that through its AI production process, which also includes identifying and creating the metadata for objects in the photo.
By the same measure, the company seeks to help photographers attract more clients by essentially operating as a customer relationship management service for them. The platform helps manage their jobs, while also offering workshops and meetups to help build their skills and professional networks.
Rebaud said the latest round will help Meero expand all of these products and services, while also pushing more deeply into the U.S. market. The company has about 600 employees, including 400 it hired in just the past six months, with a target of 1,200 by the end of this year.