Microsoft has spent big to acquire one of the UK’s leading mobile startups, SwiftKey, gaining its AI technology and keyboard application in the process.
London-based SwiftKey confirmed the deal in a statement on its website, and although specific terms were not revealed, the acquisition is thought to have set Microsoft back around $250m (£174m), according to The Financial Times
SwiftKey started in 2010 and its predictive keyboard app has more than 300 million users on Android and iOS. It is the latest subject of Microsoft’s spending spree, which has seen it buy a number of productivity apps, including Acompli, Sunrise and Wunderlist.
“Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more,” SwiftKey co-founders Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock wrote. “Our mission is to enhance interaction between people and technology. We think these are a perfect match, and we believe joining Microsoft is the right next stage in our journey.”
In its statement, Microsoft said it was excited to have SwiftKey on board and hinted that new uses for the app will appear soon.
“We love SwiftKey’s technology and we love the team that Jon and Ben have formed,” said Harry Shum, Microsoft’s executive vice president of technology and research. “That’s why today I’m excited to welcome the company’s employees to Microsoft. We believe that together we can achieve orders of magnitude greater scale than either of us could have achieved independently.”
Shum noted that Microsoft will now look to continue to develop SwiftKey for Android and iOS as well as looking into how the app will fit into its devices, particularly in the company’s research into “developing intelligent systems that can work more on the user’s behalf and under their control”.
In the short term, Microsoft will be integrating SwiftKey into its Word Flow technology for Windows.
The deal is the latest to show off London’s impressive technology start-up scene, as recent figures from KPMG found approximately 45,000 enterprises set up in the capital since 2010, equivalent to a new company setting up every hour of the day for the past five years.
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