Twitter has acquired image search startup Madbits for an undisclosed amount. The announcement was made on New York-based Madbits‘ site and first spotted by Gigaom. Madbits co-founders Clément Farabet and Louis-Alexandre Etezad-Heydari said:
“Today, after a tremendous year of development and iterations, we are excited to announce that we are joining Twitter.
Over this past year, we’ve built visual intelligence technology that automatically understands, organizes and extracts relevant information from raw media. 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.
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.
We are excited to join the folks at Twitter to merge our efforts and see this technology grow to its full potential.”
Madbits LinkedIn profile says the company is “primarily interested in the task of image search, and the creation of intelligent, dynamic image sets, to automatically organize large databases of images.” Last year it launched Momentsia, which allows users to create collages from photos taken inside the iOS app. Fabaret was a student of Yann LeCun, the New York University professor and deep learning pioneer who is also head of Facebook’s artificial intelligence lab, while Etezad-Heydari studied with Larry Maloney and Eero Simoncelli.
Twitter’s acquisition of Madbits makes sense because the social networking site has been focused on building out its image features. For example, it recently added support for people-tagging (a core feature of Instagram, which is owned by Twitter rival Facebook) and multiple photos per tweet and animated GIFs (though the GIFs that show up in Twitter feeds aren’t actually GIFs, but MP4s embedded with the HTML5 video tag).
In addition to building out its people graph, adding support for more types of images to Twitter will give it an edge in e-commerce, another business that it is focusing on. Earlier this month, Twitter announced that it had acquired CardSpring, an app platform that lets developers build card-linked offers like electronic coupons, loyalty cards, and virtual currencies.
Twitter did not have any comment beyond Madbits’ post.