Microsoft Confirms Purchase of AI Company Swiftkey

Redmond confirmed today that it has acquired London-based Swiftkey, which makes a predictive keyboard powered by artificial intelligence (AI) used on hundreds of millions of smartphones, for a reported $250 million.

Although Swiftkey and Microsoft confirmed the deal today, they didn?EU?t disclose financial details. The purchase price was reported by the Financial Times. From the end of fiscal 2014, Swiftkey had sales of just over $12 million, according to the company's most recent annual report.

Will Join Microsoft Research

Switftkey is one of several British companies dealing in advanced artificial-intelligence technology to be purchased by American companies. Last year Apple bought AI software company VocalIQ, and two years ago Google bought DeepMind, Dark Blue Labs and Vision Factory.

Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock, who founded Swiftkey in 2008, should each make at least $30 million from the buyout, according to reports. Swiftkey?EU?s team will join Microsoft Research and report to division chief Harry Shum. Swiftkey has more than 150 employees in London, San Francisco and Seoul.

The Swiftkey app suggests the next word a user is about to type based on analysis of the user's writing style. The app is capable of learning slang, nicknames and even which emojis a user likes to use, according to the company. Swiftkey?EU?s Android keyboard supports more than 100 languages, including several Chinese and Indian dialects.

Eight-year-old SwiftKey is known among Android users as a replacement keyboard app for phones and tablets. But it is also known as a maker of a software development kit for third parties to integrate its language-learning tech into their own services.

SwiftKey has been known for doing a lot of its research in-house, not only when it comes to artificial intelligence, but also machine learning, and natural-language processing. Presumably it?EU?s that technology and research capability that Microsoft wants to deploy, more so than having access...

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