Giorgi Gobronidze and PimEyes: From Academic Interest to Ownership

Giorgi Gobronidze and PimEyes: From Academic Interest to Ownership

It is a curious and inspiring path that can lead academics to entrepreneurial pursuits. Giorgi Gobronidze, a social research and international relations scholar, has become the driving force behind PimEyes – an innovative technology using artificial intelligence. His is a story of how a thirst for knowledge can lead to a profitable business idea.

PimEyes is an online face search engine that uses artificial intelligence to search the Internet and find pictures containing given faces. The service allows customers to find faces and check where the image appears online, helping people protect their privacy.

Giorgi Gobronidze’s is a unique journey, from being an eastern studies specialist to becoming the owner of PimEyes. Giorgi’s academic background and experiences in the military and international law provide a fascinating backdrop for his entry into the world of artificial intelligence.

“I could not believe that I would ever be here, because I started as a eastern studies specialist, as a historian,” says Giorgi Gobronidze, whose first academic specialty was Arab countries (the Georgian also speaks six languages, including Arabic is among those languages).

Giorgi Gobronidze switches specialities to a focus on international law

After eastern studies, Giorgi Gobronidze switched to law, graduating as a specialist of international criminal law. He then served in the Army, before practicing as a lawyer.

As a lawyer, Giorgi Gobronidze joined the Georgian Young Lawyers Association — the largest human rights organization in Georgia, where he used his skills as a lawyer in international criminal court. His remit at the Georgian Young Lawyers Association was gathering evidence of war crimes during the Russo-Georgia War.

“[Even though the war only] lasted for five days, we managed to gather evidence of 6,000 episodes of different types of war crimes,” said Giorgi Gobronidze. “It was an enormous amount of evidence.”

Giorgi Gobronidze’s work helped bring to justice many of the people who committed atrocities during the war, and the experience gave him a keen understanding of the nature of factual evidence and the role of digital media in a modern society.

Yet Giorgi Gobronidze’s found that his passions lay in academic pursuits, and he switched from the law back to academia, pursuing a master’s degree in international relations, specializing in international security.

“That’s where I became interested in artificial intelligence. I was studying how modern technologies and cyber warfare can impact the international and regional security landscape. But my main focus of research was Russian defense and security policy,” says Giorgi Gobronidze, who is now undertaking a doctoral program on artificial intelligence in digital governance, looking at artificial intelligence as a part of security policy.

International relations research leads Giorgi Gobronidze to an interest in artificial intelligence

Over the course of his research, he met the computer scientists who created PimEyes.

“It was in 2017, when I was in Poland teaching as a visiting lecturer in Erasmus Mundus exchange program,” says Giorgi Gobronidze.

“It was my first touch to PimEyes, and to artificial intelligence. I met these two people who have created the technology, and actually I never thought that it would be something serious for me. I never at the time thought I would be owner of the technology,” says Giorgi Gobronidze.

Two years later, Giorgi Gobronidze found himself on a research trip through several Commonwealth of Independent State countries. His goal was to study defense and security policy but his intellectual attention was captured by the topic of Russian cyber warfare.

“I decided to develop my skills in this direction,” Giorgi Gobronidze recalls of the 2019 trip, adding that a few months later in 2020, the global COVID pandemic, actually “helped” him in this academic pursuit, because he “had a lot of time at home,” and he used that time to learn more about artificial intelligence.

Understanding that artificial intelligence was becoming an increasingly important technology – not only in his personal field of research, but also in society and business more widely – Giorgi Gobronidze decided to acquire a business in the field.

Giorgi Gobronidze happens upon a curious coincidence when he goes looking for an acquisition target

By a curious coincidence, he was at a business meeting about a potential artificial intelligence technology acquisition he had heard of, and it turned out to be PimEyes – the technology he had been introduced to back in 2017 in Poland.

“It was a really strange and very funny coincidence on the one hand. And on the other hand, I got lucky,” says Giorgi Gobronidze.

For Giorgi Gobronidze, PimEyes is the perfect melding of his academic interests and his desire to build an artificial intelligence business servicing the needs of society.  

“For me, PimEyes has never been a business project. It was more like an academic project,” says Giorgi Gobronidze, adding that it is his belief that the best way to learn something is to work directly on development of the thing.

Since then, Giorgi Gobronidze has done exactly that. His ownership of PimEyes has fed his greater understanding about the role that artificial intelligence can play in not only national security but also personal security and privacy. The work he has done developing PimEyes and building the company has fed directly into his academic research, while also building a successful company.

From academic to entrepreneur is a two-way street, says Giorgi Gobronidze

And it is not a one-way path for Giorgi Gobronidze. His understanding of international relations and the law even feeds back into how he runs, manages and markets his business. For instance, providing an AI-based online face search engine means touching on myriad aspects of data and privacy law in multiple jurisdictions. It involves dealing with state actors, requiring a keen understanding of international relations and defense policy. There are few aspects of running a technology business that don’t benefit from the knowledge and insight that Giorgi Gobronidze has built up over his academic career.

From an eastern studies undergraduate, to soldier, to practicing lawyer, to international relations academic, to owner of a thriving technology business. Giorgi Gobronidze’s is a truly unique and fascinating journey.

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