Microsoft has acquired mobile software keyboard startup SwiftKey for $250m.
SwiftKey was founded in 2008 with the support of a £15,000 grant from the government’s Innovate UK agency.
The startup is best known for providing a predictive keyboard for iOS and Android devices that reduces the number of keystrokes when inputting text.
SwiftKey founders Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock explained that the company has evolved significantly since being founded eight years ago.
“We’ve come a long way since then. Today hundreds of millions of people around the world, and many of the leading mobile manufacturers, rely on our language prediction technology,” they wrote on the SwiftKey blog.
“Our users have saved an estimated 10 trillion keystrokes across 100 different languages, which adds up to over 100,000 years of reclaimed typing time.”
The acquisition shows how government support can help small digital companies scale and attract the attention of the world’s largest technology corporations.
Harry Shum, executive vice president of Microsoft’s technology and research division, explained in a blog post that the company’s interest in SwiftKey stemmed from a commitment to bringing new technology to its software and services portfolio.
“SwiftKey’s predictive technology aligns with Microsoft’s investments and ambition to develop intelligent systems that can work more on the user’s behalf and under their control,” he said.
Microsoft did not go into many details about how SwiftKey will be brought into the corporate fold, but Reynolds and Medlock said that the firm will continue working on iOS and Android apps.
Purchasing SwiftKey is just one facet of Microsoft’s strategy to add more features and tools to its products, the most recent example being the integration of Yammer social networking services into Office 365.
It all falls under chief executive Satya Nadella’s goal to reinvent productivity tools and services with a ‘mobile first, cloud first’ strategy, part of which involves making better use of data and cloud services to allow people and businesses to be more efficient.
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