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Twitter acquires London based machine learning startup Magic Pony

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Twitter has acquired 18 months old machine learning startup Magic Pony in a bid to beef up its media and image processing capabilities. The announcement comes at a time when every other major tech company is acquiring startups left and right for the sake of building more robust, machine learning powered tech for their platforms.

Jack Dorsey, CEO of the social networking website, made the announcement through a blog post.

Today, we’re very excited to announce that we’re expanding our capabilities in machine learning by acquiring Magic Pony Technology, a London-based technology company that has developed novel machine learning techniques for visual processing.

Magic Pony is an 18 month old, London based startup that has quietly been developing advanced, machine learning based systems that enable advanced visual processing on the web, on desktop and mobile. The rather errr….fantastic name apart, Magic Pony has developed some pretty intriguing tech and holds over 20 international patents to its name. The company operates with a staff of 11 employees.

While the terms of the deal are not out in the open yet, Techcrunch is citing two separate sources to state that Twitter is paying $150 million in all for the acquisition. The number includes bonuses for   the Magic Pony staff who are joining Twitter — including co-founders Zehan Wang and Rob Bishop.

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.

Interestingly enough, this acquisition along with several others made by Twitter in recent times, give it access to a pool of experts in domains its not particularly active in. I mean yes, image processing makes sense, but Magic Pony is also active in Virtual and Augumented reality — two areas Twitter hasn’t particularly planned or laid out an action plan for.

Magic Pony’s team will be joiningTwitter Cortex, a team of engineers, data scientists, and machine learning researchers, many of whom came to Twitter through similar acquisitions. The team is responsible for building new and innovative products centered around social media.

Speaking on the acquisition, Rob Bishop, Magic Pony CEO and co-founder said,

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.

Well, the times certainly appear to be very kind to machine learning startups all around, as we hear of their acquisition left and right by corporations intent upon getting a steeper learning curve for their own.

Meanwhile, Twitter can and presumably will, deploy Magic Pony’s — who came up with the name anyways? — to improve the quality of the media upon its website. The tech, which uses machine learning and neural network to improve media using data that isn’t actually there, has a huge area of application and the acquisition has just given it a much vaster playing field.


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