Twitter pays up to $150M for Magic Pony Technology, which uses neural networks to improve images
Twitter today is taking another step to build up its machine learning muscle, and also potentially to improve how it delivers photos and videos across its apps: the company is acquiring Magic Pony Technology (that is really the name), a company based out of London that has developed techniques of using neural networks (systems that essentially are designed to think like human brains) and machine learning to provide expanded data for images — used, for example, to enhance a picture or video taken on a mobile phone; or to help develop graphics for virtual reality or augmented reality applications.
Twitter is paying $150 million in all for the deal, including retention bonuses for the staff.
“Machine learning is increasingly at the core of everything we build at Twitter,” said Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO and co-founder, in a statement. “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.”
This is the second machine learning startup Twitter has acquired in the UK, after Whetlab last year.
Magic Pony Technology had raised money from investors like Entrepreneur First and Balderton.
We first learned about Magic Pony Technology when we saw them present last year at a [email protected], a tech event put on at St James’ Palace in London. It made a few further waves this year, as it further revealed the way that its technology worked to help enhance visuals with information that may not be in the picture itself, but essentially be recreated from composites of pictures that are similar to it, not unlike how the human eye works. In fact, one anecdote I’ve read about the origin of the name “Magic Pony” is that it’s a reference to the remarkable nature of what they do. (“It’s unbelievable, like a magic pony!”)
The company, however, by and large has remained fairly under the radar, with a website that has never had more than a simple statement about what it does and the number of patents that it has filed. (There are around 20 now, with several of them listed here.)
More to come.