Social Media

Twitter Buys Machine Learning Firm

The acquisition of Magic Pony gives the social media firm the opportunity to strengthen its video offerings Periscope and Vine.
Katie Kuehner-HebertJune 20, 2016

Twitter on Monday said it would buy Magic Pony Technology, a London-based firm that has developed novel machine learning techniques for visual processing.

“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 San Francisco-based firm’s co-founder and chief executive Jack Dorsey said in a post on the company’ blog.

“We are continuing to build strength into our deep learning teams with world-class talent to help Twitter be the best place to see what’s happening and why it matters, first.”

A Better Way to Do Ecommerce

A Better Way to Do Ecommerce

Learn how Precision Medical leveraged OneWorld to cut the cost of billing in half and added $2.5M in annual revenue.

Twitter’s acquisition of Magic Pony builds on other investments the firm has made in machine learning, beginning with the acquisitions of Madbits in July 2014 and Whetlab in June 2015, Dorsey said.

While Dorsey did not disclose the terms of the deal, sources told TechCrunch that Twitter is paying up to $150 million to buy Magic Pony, which also takes into account retention bonuses for the 11-member staff, including co-founders Zehan Wang and CEO Rob Bishop.

The deal is “a clear opportunity” for Twitter, considering that many of its users post and view pictures and videos via its apps Vine and Periscope, which often do not come out that well on mobile devices, TechCrunch wrote.

Magic Pony’s “very strong” team could also help give Twitter a leg up in still-emerging tech areas where the company has yet to lay out any intentions, like virtual and augmented reality, according to TechCrunch.

“Machine learning is increasingly at the core of everything we build at Twitter,” Dorsey wrote. “It’s powering much of the work we’re doing to make it easier to create, share, and discover the very best content so that every time you open Twitter you’re immersed in the most relevant news, stories, and events for you.”