News story

Magic Pony Technology: Twitter buys start-up for $150 million

A start-up that won support from Innovate UK for its video technology has been acquired by Twitter in a reported $150 million deal.

A company that uses machine-learning to improve images and video has been acquired by Twitter only two years after starting up.

London-based Magic Pony Technology was founded by recent graduates Rob Bishop and Zehan Wang. It has 11 members of staff with expertise in computer vision, machine learning, high-performance computing and computational science.

Its technology improves the quality of video captured with low-resolution cameras by recognising patterns and textures.

Magic Pony will accelerate its research

A statement on the company’s website said:

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.

Acquisition creates opportunities for Twitter

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey said:

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.

Magic Pony Technology won funding support last year from Innovate UK to develop improved video encoding technology to address infrastructure issues resulting from an explosion of video traffic across the Internet.

Rob Bishop, now product lead at Cortex Vx, Twitter, said:

Innovate UK has been a fantastic partner to us and I strongly encourage any UK technology entrepreneur to make the most of this brilliant agency.

We were fortunate to gain a development of prototype grant from Innovate UK’s Smart grant scheme in 2015, which provided us with essential funding to help turn our research ideas into a functioning product – ultimately leading to Magic Pony Technology being acquired by Twitter in 2016.

The company is the second start-up supported by Innovate UK to be bought by a technology giant. In February, language technology business and predictive keyboard app developer SwiftKey was acquired by Microsoft in a $250 million deal.

SwiftKey was helped to get off the ground with two grants from Innovate UK.