The Face Behind FaceApp Is Just Like Any Other – But Here’s What You Should Know

By  |  July 26, 2019

Well, you do not need to be bored with the whole FaceApp introduction. By now, you already know it’s some Russian app that everyone is worried about, especially regarding the safety of user data. While all the controversies are going on, it looks like digging deeper is being trivialized. Let’s get to know the mastermind behind what is literally taking the world by storm. 

His name is Yaroslav Goncharov. FaceApp is not the only project the Russian has worked on. He has had a stint with Windows Mobile for Microsoft and co-founded a firm that sold to Yandex, the Russian version of Google. As far as we know, the deal went for USD 38 Mn, and that was the melody that began the music of his wealth. 

Goncharov’s biggest success so far would seem like it’s with the new app. Though it was a lot of stress for him and his team of 12 to develop, the traction of the work is nanoscopic compared to his previous strides.

At 40 years of age, the geek has been able to create something that currently boasts of being the world’s hottest and seemingly most controversial app. 

A check on his LinkedIn page says that Yaraslove studied Computer Science at the St. Petersburg State University, and founded FaceApp in St. Petersburg. You may want to sense something awry when you hear that the development team is based out of Russia.

But this may not be a major security concern, because several legitimate developers are based in Russia. That’s to say, do not judge a product by its country of base. 

FaceApp, which makes 99 percent of its money from nothing more than a paid-for subscription service, topped the download charts for both Android and iPhone. With the way top-echelon people such as Drake, Iggy Azalea, and Dwayne Wade, among other celebrities shared photos of how they would look like when they are old, the easily app became viral. 

Goncharov worked with Microsoft in the early years of the 21st century, where he familiarized himself with smartphone features. As a software developer on what was then Windows Mobile, he was working – perhaps hard – to be the one who comes up with the first open, large-scale operating system.

This was long before anything like Android, iPhone, or Google’s OS came into existence. In an interview with Forbes, the techie said he was sure he was building the future while working back in Redmond. 

Goncharov also did some work with SPB Software, where he served as Chief Technology Officer and one of the partners’ team that comprised two other Russians like himself. This particular company made strides in creating alternative home screens for Windows Phone.

Being that he was already friends with the software, it was more or less cakewalk. But he had to leave the company at some point, particularly when Windows kicked curbs while trying to produce a closed system – rather than an open, partner-led Android focus – in an attempt to compete with Apple. 

The Russian, while working with Microsoft, Yandex too, took deeply with neural networks. Are we thinking the same thing? Forbes reports that he was fascinated by hardware and software that try to learn and process information in the same way the human brain would. Of everything, his favorite child was the kind of algorithm that could generate a face from given attributes such as gender and hair color

“The quality at that point was terrible, but there was still some magic.” He says that after six months of tinkering the quality of the images, his neural nets were creating were much better than what was previously available. 

Goncharov left Yandex in 2013 after the Russian search engine was bought. The techpreneur remains silent about how much he made from the deal, but he said the money was enough to start his own company.

Image result for Yaroslav Goncharov

Before FaceApp, he created some products, chief of what was a hotel Wi-Fi testing tool. Though this saw significant progress, he was probably too hungry for more that he decided to start working on FaceApp in 2016. 

FaceApp launched in 2017, but just as a beta version. But even this form could not stop it from going viral for the first time, as Goncharov says it made people feel prettier. Seeing how much exciting screams the app garnered – millions by the way – he decided to devise a business plan. This formulation was one that had no watermark and disturbing ads, ultimately replacing PhotoShop editors with Artificial Intelligence. 

Is he with the Russian Intelligence? Nothing about that so far. Is he in the military? His history does not say anything relating. Is he going to hand over user data to the Russian government or store it in some server until need comes up for it?

Well, Goncharov says all pictures get deleted within 48 hours. According to him, FaceApp, based on its profitability since the last two years, could easily have roped in funding from Silicon Valley. But the company decided to grow organically. 

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