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Example of the use of Magnific, the AI image enhancement tool. SUR
Freepik buys the startup Magnific, an AI-powered image upscaler and enhancer that has clocked up 725,000 users in five months
Business

Freepik buys the startup Magnific, an AI-powered image upscaler and enhancer that has clocked up 725,000 users in five months

The artificial intelligence tool was launched just five months ago by two entrepreneurs from Murcia who will continue at the helm of their skyrocketing business, but now as a subsidiary of the Malaga-based company

Nuria Triguero

Malaga

Sunday, 12 May 2024, 07:04

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The Malaga-based company Freepik has closed its biggest acquisition to date by buying up Magnific, a startup led by two people from Murcia that in just five months has managed to leave the world open-mouthed with the magic it is capable of doing with images. Even Elon Musk joined the viral enthusiasm generated by this tool based on generative artificial intelligence, and today it already has 725,000 registered users "with zero investment", according to its founders.

Magnific was launched in November 2023 by Javi López and Emilio Nicolás, two entrepreneurs from Murcia who set out to use the knowledge they had accumulated in generative AI to create a startup with zero team, zero investment and relying on AI to develop the code. User growth has been meteoric: in the first 24 hours 60,000 people signed up to the waiting-list and in five months they have exceeded 700,000 users, "many of them paying users", say the founders (they do not give exact figures). Javi López himself highlighted this this week on the social network X, comparing it with the lengthier time it took some tech giants to reach their first million users: Netflix three and a half years, Airbnb two and a half years, Twitter two years and Facebook ten months.

It looks like magic, but it's AI

Magnific has pioneered a new collection of tools that they have defined as 'reimagined upscaling'. This is a tool that increases the dimensions of an image while significantly improving its quality and resolution. It also allows users to control any changes and add new details. In addition, low-resolution images can be enhanced and used for all kinds of creative projects: billboard design, video games, photo editing or animation film production, among others.

Javi López and Emilio Nicolás flanking Joaquín Cuenca, CEO of Freepik, in a picture taken after signing the acquisition deal.
Javi López and Emilio Nicolás flanking Joaquín Cuenca, CEO of Freepik, in a picture taken after signing the acquisition deal. SUR

The tool significantly streamlines user workflow with images that can be enhanced quickly. The real-time enhancement feature offered by the tool is much faster than its competitors: it used to take days to achieve the same result with Adobe Photoshop and now it's completed in just a matter of seconds. "In addition, with the new Style Transfer feature, users can transform the image at will and control the amount of style and structural integrity they bring to the new version of the image," Freepik explained in a statement.

The match with Freepik is obvious: the Malaga-based company has positioned itself as a world leader in the development of creative tools as well as the distribution of graphic and audiovisual content and generative AI tools. In turn, Magnific is "the best AI tool on the market to optimise, resize and transform images", according to Freepik, which describes this deal as its "largest strategic purchase" (costs are not disclosed). They had previously acquired EyeEm from Germany in 2023, Videvo from the UK, Original Mockups from Colombia and Iconfinder from Denmark in 2022.

As a result of this acquisition Freepik will enrich its offering of AI-based tools with Magnific's cutting-edge technology. The company founders will continue to "develop and test new and innovative AI ideas" and Magnific will continue to operate as an independent company and subsidiary of Freepik. In addition, both co-founders will work alongside Omar Pera, VP of Freepik Labs (Freepik's AI and innovation team), to develop cutting-edge solutions for Freepik users.

The second time was the charm

Thanks to Magnific's success, the company has been highly coveted and has received multiple approaches. In fact, it received its first proposal from Freepik on launch day, but the offer was turned down. But in the end, the Malaga-based company has won the day thanks to the chemistry between each company's founders, it turns out they were previously acquainted. "A few weeks ago, someone asked if we would consider an acquisition approach. I said, 'Yes, but only with someone who shares our values and will help us achieve something big faster. That's the key,'" explains Javi López.

Joaquín Cuenca Abela, CEO and co-founder of Freepik, comments: "I have long been a fan of Javi and Emilio, their AI expertise and the community they have built. In fact, Javi has been part of Freepik's AI partner programme for quite some time, as well as being a friend of mine, and has shared his own impressions of our AI tools during their beta phase. Magnific will complement our AI toolset. Also, having Javi and Emilio's experience and vision on our team will make Freepik even more important when it comes to artificial intelligence, and that's critical to Freepik's future and our global expansion."

Javi Lopez, co-founder of Magnific, adds: "When you find another company like Freepik with which you share both values and mission, sharing resources to achieve great goals was obviously the next step to take. Magnific and Freepik share a clear vision: we want to help everyone express the power of their ideas. Now we will work together to shape that reality."

Emilio Nicolás, for his part, states: "From day one, we have had conversations with Joaquín and we have shared both our point of view and our aspirations for the future. It is as if we were on the same wavelength, especially because we are from the Vega del Segura area. For us, Joaquín is a pioneer and what he has built in Freepik together with his team is incredible. So, little by little, we saw the potential of this merger between our projects. There is nothing more exciting than joining forces to shape the future of this industry. Together, we are set to surf the waves of generative AI, but this time on an even firmer board - Freepik + Magnific!"

Carlos Marin, Freepik's CSO (Chief Strategy Officer) who led the deal, says: "At Freepik, improving the user experience remains our top priority. Our latest acquisition, Magnific, not only complements, but also enriches our existing set of AI-enabled tools. We are delighted to move forward and bring such a talented team on board. This marks another significant milestone in Freepik's continued growth and our commitment to an AI-driven future."

Omar Pera, VP of Freepik Labs, has the final say: "Freepik is a technology company with a strong focus on artificial intelligence, enabling the generation of more than one million AI images per day. With Magnific's technology, which is a benchmark among design professionals, Freepik will be able to stay at the forefront of generative AI and innovate faster, while maintaining its high standards."

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