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“Curalate’s product is cool as s***,” says social media maven Gary Vaynerchuk. “Everyone knows that images are where it’s at, and Curalate is helping brands crush it with images.”

That’s probably one of the reasons the startup just raised $8.5 million in a second round of funding. It’s definitely one of the reasons why Gary V, as he’s known, joined the company as a strategic adviser.

tumblrCuralate uses advanced image-processing technology to help brands track “visual conversations” across the most prominent visual social media platforms, such as Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook. Brands can see which conversations are most popular, enter the conversations, create promotions, and track their own social reach.

“Curalate has spent the last two years continuing to refine its ability to track images across the social web and to map those images back to the products they represent,” CEO Apu Gupta told me via Skype. “This gives brands an ability to go beyond social media and actually use social data to make broader business decisions.”

In addition to raising millions of dollars and bringing Curalate’s total funding to $12.5 million, Gupta and Gary V are also tarnishing the good names of sailors.

I asked Gupta whether his meetings would now require a mute or bleep button, as the famously foul-mouthed Vaynerchuk has been known to let fly with an F-bomb or 300 during his near-ubiquitous keynote speeches. Gupta replied with good humor.

“Our meetings aren’t for the faint of heart,” he said. “Gary and I both curse like sailors.”

Gary-Vaynerchuk-0313_pan_23851Vaynerchuk’s involvement is more centered around his work with Vayner Media, which helps companies do social right, than the company that unleashed him on the world, Wine Library. In fact, when I asked him about it, Vaynerchuk said that alcohol played no role in his agreeing to be an advisor.

“Everyone knows that images are where it’s at, and Curalate is helping brands crush it with images,” he said. “Vayner Media has brought Curalate to its clients. Most of the brands we work with are all recognizing that visual social networks like Pinterest and Instagram are becoming a huge deal.”

Of course, he’s not just an adviser. He’s also an investor.

NEA led the $8.5 million round with participation from First Round Capital, MentorTech Ventures and, yes, Vayner RSE, Vaynerchuck’s new $25 million fund. Curalate competitor Piquora recently announced a $7.7 million series A.

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