Twitter Adds MadBits Image Search, Reports Growth

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Twitter acquires an image search startup, and reports encouraging financial results

Twitter continues to use acquisitions to cherry pick expertise, as the micro blogging giant buys an image search and intelligence startup called Madbits. The deal was announced while the service announced its revenue has increased substantially.

The New York-based company was acquired for an undisclosed amount, but it reportedly specialises in deep learning technology to assign relevant information to raw images.

Image Search

The acquisition was revealed on the Madbits website. “Today, after a tremendous year of development and iterations, we are excited to announce that we are joining Twitter,” wrote Madbits co-founders Clément Farabet and Louis-Alexandre Etezad-Heydari.

“Over this past year, we’ve built visual intelligence technology that automatically understands, organises and extracts relevant information from raw media,” they wrote. “Understanding the content of an image, whether or not there are tags associated with that image, is a complex challenge. We developed our technology based on deep learning, an approach to statistical machine learning that involves stacking simple projections to form powerful hierarchical models of a signal.

Twitter, it seems, snapped up the company before it could go public with its technology.

“We prototyped and tested about ten different applications, and as we’ve prepared to launch publicly, we’ve decided to bring the technology to Twitter, a company that shares our ambitions and vision and will help us scale this technology,” wrote the co-founders. “We are excited to join the folks at Twitter to merge our efforts and see this technology grow to its full potential.”

There is not a lot of other information about the company, but the company’s LinkedIn profile reveals its visual intelligence technology can automatically organise large databases of images. And the LinkedIn profile of Louis-Alexandre Etezad-Heydari now lists his job title as senior software engineer at Twitter.

Twitter money IPO commercial tweet dollars © ullrich shutterstockTwitter is known to be keen to expand its imaging capabilities, and recently added a people-tagging option in its images, so that people can link photos to the Twitter usernames of those pictured in them. It has also allowed for up to four images per tweet as well.

Good results

Twitter reported that its revenue grew 124 percent from a year ago, and the number of people using the site went up six percent since March, sending the share price soaring 30 percent.

On the down side, total usage is down seven percent from a year ago, despite a large surge during the World Cup.

Twitter’s revenue for the quarter just finished was $312 million, beating analyst predictions of $283m, and a big increase on $139m for the same quarter a year ago.

The firm made a net loss of $145 million, compared with $42m in the same quarter a year ago. However, leaving aside acquiaition costs and other, Twitter actually made a profit of £15 million this quarter, compared with a loss of $12 million a year ago.

Acquisition Deals

Twitter over the years has steadily acquired the technology it needs from a number of different companies.

Earlier this month, Twitter acquired CardSpring, an app platform that lets developers build card-linked offers such as loyalty cards and electronic coupons. And last year it acquired Lucky Sort, a small text analytics start-up from Oregon, USA.

It also bought a number of other companies including Ubalo for its coding capabilities; Smallthought Systems for its analytical capabilities, MoPub for its mobile ad platform; RestEngine, for social games and media applications; and Posterous for its blogging capabilities – to name but a few acquisitions over the past few years.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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