Facebook is acquiring London-based startup Bloomsbury AI, the company announced Tuesday, stating that the firm’s team specializing in machine reading and comprehension of natural writing will be joining its operations in the capital of the United Kingdom. No financial details of the transaction have been revealed in an official capacity and Facebook hasn’t elaborated on the move any further, though TechCrunch on Monday reported that the buyout is primarily aimed at bolstering the social media giant’s fight against fake news. Bloomsbury AI co-founder and research chief Sebastian Riedel is also one of the co-founders of Factmata, another London startup focused on creating solutions for identifying and eliminating misinformation on the internet.
Facebook agreed to pay between $23 million and $30 million in both cash and stock for Bloomsbury AI, according to the same report. The company’s existing investors will all be bought out in cash, having reportedly agreed to relatively minimal returns, whereas the at least $17.5 million in stock will be given to its founding team members, insiders claim. Mr. Riedel is said to have been the biggest factor in Facebook’s decision to greenlight the acquisition. The relatively small sale price is understood to be reflective of the fact that Bloomsbury AI was nowhere near profitability, nor did it have a clear path toward commercial success in the long term, though its core research team is being described as renowned and highly capable.
The acquisition of Bloomsbury AI should also provide Facebook with a larger machine learning foothold in the UK, a country where Google’s DeepMind has so far been acquiring the majority of the top talent in the field, according to numerous previous reports. To date, the startup only delivered one product – an application programming interface (API) for adding intelligent Q&A forms to any type of documents, including websites. The future of that API, called Cape, has yet to be clarified, though Facebook is likely to discontinue it moving forward.