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Twitter Buys Machine-Learning Startup Magic Pony for Reported $150 Million to Beef Up Video

Twitter plans to enhance its video features with the acquisition of Magic Pony Technology, a U.K. startup specializing in machine-learning visual processing.

Twitter is paying up to $150 million total for Magic Pony, TechCrunch reported.

The deal is in no small part an “acquihire”: Twitter said the London-based developer’s team includes 11 PhDs in the fields of computer vision, machine learning, high-performance computing, and computational neuroscience.

Magic Pony, founded in 2014, created algorithms that can understand the features of imagery. That “will be used to enhance our strength in live and video and opens up a whole lot of exciting creative possibilities for Twitter,” Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO and co-founder, said in announcing the pact.

Dorsey, in a tweet, said the Twitter team was “blown away” by what Magic Pony has developed, linking to an MIT Technology Review article describing the tech. Magic Pony has developed a way to create high-quality videos and images from low-resolution source material, according to the piece, and has demoed the system enhancing the quality of a live gaming feed in real time.

“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,” Dorsey said in announcing the deal.

Twitter’s previous acquisitions in the machine-learning space included the acquisition of Madbits in July 2014 and Whetlab in June 2015. The company said Magic Pony’s team will join Twitter Cortex, a team of engineers, data scientists, and machine-learning researchers dedicated to “building a product in which people can easily find new experiences to share and participate in.”

Rob Bishop, Magic Pony CEO and co-founder, commented, “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.”

The startup called itself “Magic Pony” after an early investor said no one would believe the technology existed if they didn’t see it themselves, according to the MIT Technology Review report.

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