Twitter acquires machine learning startup for $150 million
This marks the third machine learning startup Twitter has acquired in two years, following its purchase of Whetlab in 2015, and Madbits in 2014.
Magic Pony Technology has developed techniques of using neural networks and machine learning to provide expanded data for images.
The technology can be used to improve the quality of a photo or video captured on a smartphone, or to help generate graphics for virtual reality or augmented reality applications.
The acquisition price includes retention bonuses for the startup’s 11 employees, including co-founders Zehan Wang and CEO Rob Bishop.
“Machine learning is increasingly at the core of everything we build at Twitter,” said Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO and co-founder. “Magic Pony’s machine learning technology will help us build strength into our deep learning teams with world-class talent, so Twitter can continue to be the best place to see what’s happening and why it matters, first. We value deep learning research to help make our world better, and we will keep doing our part to share our work and learnings with the community.”
Magic Pony Technology had previously raised an undisclosed amount of money from several investors including Octopus Ventures, Entrepreneur First and Balderton.
Although Twitter has not disclosed what it plans to do with Magic Pony’s technology, Dorsey did state that there would be a place for machine learning in Twitter’s bigger business. He also said that the Magic Pony staff will be joining Twitter’s Cortex division.
“Our team has researched and developed state-of-the-art machine learning techniques for visual processing that can identify the features of imagery and use that information to process it in new ways,” said Rob Bishop, Magic Pony CEO and co-founder. “Joining forces with Twitter gives us the opportunity to bring the benefits of that research to hundreds of millions of people around the world, and allows Magic Pony to contribute to better quality viewing experiences on Twitter.”