Twitter acquires machine learning company Magic Pony Technology

The biggest tech companies around the world are going after machine learning technology. Twitter joins the ranks of these companies with its $150 million acquisition of the London-based company, Magic Pony Technology.

The social media company made the announcement through a post on their official blog this morning where it announced its latest investment in machine learning following acquisitions of Madbits in June 2014 and Whetlab in June 2015.

London is an important engineering center for us, responsible for some of our highest priority product work, like live video. The Magic Pony team there will serve as the European base of the Twitter Cortex team and help recruit more top talent from the region,” said Jeremy Rishel, vice president of engineering at Twitter, in a statement.

Magic Pony and its staff, which includes members with expertise across computer vision, machine learning, high-performance computing, and computational neuroscience, will join Twitter’s Cortex division. Its CEO, Rob Bishop and his co-founder Zehan Wang, who started the company together 18 months ago, will be based out of Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters.

According to Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, machine learning is at the centre of everything the company builds, and will continue to grow in importance in the future.

“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,” said Dorsey in a statement.

Twitter’s blog post goes on to say that Magic Pony’s technology is “based on research by the team to create algorithms that can understand the features of imagery,” which will be used to enhance Twitter’s live and video capabilities.

Magic Pony uses neural technology to imagine a new picture that’s larger and more detailed than the original. TechCrunch compares it to Adobe’s content aware-fill. The startup employs deep learning algorithms to automatically scan and label sample imagery.

“Our team has researched and developed state-of-the-art machine learning techniques for visual processing that can identify the features of imagery and use that information to process it in new ways. ,” said Bishop.

“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.”

We’ve seen several companies commit to developing machine learning assets as of late, including Google, Apple and Amazon. While manufacturers have entered the space with a variety of digital assistants, Facebook is one of the only social media companies to capitalize on machine learning, and its attempt came in the form of chatbots.

Based on the nature of the company, it looks like Magic Pony’s technology will be used in part to sharpen low resolution and blurry videos in real time. The startup announced in a post that it will serve as Twitter’s “European homebase for Twitter’s machine learning efforts.”