London start-up Magic Pony acquired by Twitter

The social media giant plans to use the acquisition to develop its machine learning capabilities and "improve visual experiences" across its apps

Magic Pony, an 18 month-old tech start-up, has been purchased by Twitter in a deal that will see the social media giant look to expand its machine learning techniques for visual processing.

According to TechCrunch, Twitter is paying up to $150m for the deal which will include retention bonuses for Magic Pony employees.

Based in London and founded by Rob Bishop and Zehan Wong, Magic Pony specialises in artificial intelligence and has a team of 14 engineers that work to identify features of imagery and then use this information to process it better.

Since launch in December 2014, the start-up has created machine-learning-based approaches for visual processing on web, desktop and mobile, filing over 20 international patents.

Its acquisition marks a successful exit for investor Octopus Ventures and is the third AI business in Octopus’ portfolio to be acquired following SwiftKey’s acquisition by Microsoft earlier this year and Evi’s purchase by Amazon back in 2012.

In a statement on its website, Magic Pony commented: “Today we’re excited to announce that we’re joining forces with Twitter to use our technology to improve the visual experiences that are delivered across their apps.

“Together with Twitter, we’re looking forward to vastly accelerating our rate of research; growing our team, which will serve as the European homebase for Twitter’s machine learning efforts; and continuing to publish. We’ve barely scratched the surface of what we think is possible in this area and are excited to see what the future holds.”

Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, added: 

“Magic Pony’s technology – based on research by the team to create algorithms that can understand the features of imagery – will be used to enhance our strength in live and video and opens up a whole lot of exciting creative possibilities for Twitter. The team includes 11 PhDs with expertise across computer vision, machine learning, high-performance computing, and computational neuroscience, who are alumni of some of the top labs in the world.”

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