Swiftkey Co-Founder Misses Out On Millions, Sold Share For Bicycle

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A founder of Swiftkey gave away his stake for a bicycle in 2008 and now his company is worth millions after Microsoft bought it up.

Chris Hill-Scott invented the iPhone keyboard app, that uses artificial intelligence to predict the next written word, with two other partners.

The predictive text app was sold yesterday to Microsoft for a massive £174 million.

The Daily Mail reports:

University friends Jon Reynolds, 30, and Ben Medlock, 36, have walked away with over £25million each after seven short years.

Mr Hill-Scott, who now designs websites for the government, earning just above £50,000 per year, yesterday tweeted: ‘The biggest mistake I have ever made.’

Mr Reynolds and Ben Medlock founded the company in 2008 after leaving university.

But despite them each nabbing a reported £25million each for their seven years work for the company, founder Mr Hill-Scott, 29. from Buckinghamshire, did not receive a penny.

He gave up his directorship two weeks into the project to pursue a career in photography.

Alongside his comment, posted on Twitter, he published a document from Companies’ House detailing his resignation as a director.

The Times reported last night that Mr Hill-Scott disliked the long hours associated with working for a technology start-up and struggled without a salary.Swiftkey

A spokesman for SwiftKey said he left the company on good terms with his friends.

Mr Reynolds and Dr Medlock went on to develop the text technology that went on to be used in more than 300million smartphones and tablets around the world.

The software uses so-called artificial intelligence to learn from the person using the phone, and improve its predictions.

It suggests the next word a user is about to type and can even remember slang and nicknames.

The company estimates its software has saved its users 10 trillion keystrokes, which amounts to more than 100,000 years of typing time.

The pair also helped Stephen Hawking to upgrade his computer-generated voice by applying predictive language software to his system and enabling him to speak faster and continue to give lectures.

Silicon Valley, the name for America’s west coast technology centre, has tried to tap into British expertise in artificial intelligence before.

In 2014, Google bought DeepMind for £400million – a programme which develops artificial intelligence for computer games.

Last year Apple bought VocalIQ, which makes software to help computers and people converse more naturally.

Mr Reynolds, an undergraduate studying natural sciences met Dr Medlock, a post-graduate in natural language ad information processing, at Cambridge in 2004.

SwiftKey’s app, which works in more than 100 languages and has been downloaded more than 10 million times, has topped the download rankings in 47 countries.

The technology also appears automatically on hundreds of millions of smartphones after the company did deals with businesses including Samsung, the Korean phone maker.

Edmondo Burr
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