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Twitter buys Magic Ponyfor $150m (yes, seriously) and it’s kind of AI big deal

In a boon for UK startups on the opening day of London Tech Week, it’s been announced that Twitter is buying local machine learning outfit Magic Pony for $150 million.

With fierce competition in the race for smarter platforms, Magic Pony’s 14-strong team of engineers will join Twitter Cortex and lead the company’s drive to find more European AI experts.

Magic Pony is focused on using machine learning to understand video content and make it better on the fly. MIT’s Technology Review explained back in April:

“The company has developed a way to create high-quality videos or images from low-resolution ones….

“What’s unusual about the company’s approach to processing video footage is that it does not need manually labeled examples.

“Instead, it recognizes statistical patterns in high-resolution and low-resolution examples and then teaches itself what edges, textures, straight lines, and other features should look like.”

This acquisition will mean the technology can be applied at scale to videos posted on Twitter, but it will perhaps be put to work beyond its core function.

“Machine learning is increasingly at the core of everything we build at Twitter,” CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey said in a statement.

Twitter already has upwards of 30 people in its Cortex team, which is focused on using AI to make it an ever better platform for finding and sharing information.

Of course, while great news for Twitter and Magic Pony, if you’re looking to do more with your data, there’s clearly global competition for machine learning experts here in London and the rest of Europe.

London’s Octopus Ventures was an early investor in Magic Pony. The VC firm’s Luke Hakes said of the deal:

“The UK continues to grow as the ‘go-to’ place for companies looking to build best in breed AI technology – Octopus has been fortunate to work with the founders of three companies in this space that have gone on to be acquired, with Evi and Amazon, SwiftKey and Microsoft, and now Magic Pony and Twitter.

“We are excited for the Magic Pony team, but also to take what we have learnt on the last three journeys and help the next generation of entrepreneurs lead the way in the on-going AI revolution.”