Twitter acquires start-up to improve live streaming service Periscope

Twitter Periscope

Twitter has acquired London-based start-up Magic Pony for a reported $150m to build its expertise in machine learning for visual processing. Magic Pony’s technology is based on research by its team to create algorithms that can understand the features of imagery and Twitter intends to use it to enhance its live video streaming service Periscope.

Periscope, which was acquired by Twitter and integrated into its service last year, competes with similar live-streaming services from the likes of Snapchat and Facebook. The addition of Magic Pony’s capability will help make Periscope more attractive as, for instance, it has the ability to improve the quality of live video recorded with a poor camera or in poor light.

In a blog, Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey said machine learning was at the heart of much of what the business was going “to make it easier to create, share, and discover the very best content so that every time you open Twitter you’re immersed in the most relevant news, stories, and events for you”.

Magic Pony was established in 2014 and its team is 14-strong (11 of them have PHDs); they will be joining Twitter’s Cortex team of engineers, data scientists and researchers at its London office while its CEO Rob Bishop will move to its global HQ in San Francisco.

“We are continuing to build strength into our deep learning teams with world-class talent to help Twitter 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,” added Dorsey.

All of the “big four” social media platforms, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, have been making significant investments in their technology lately with a view to make them more attractive to advertisers, businesses and retailers. Read our round up of the latest developments.