We're delighted to announce that Magic Pony Technology (EF3) has been acquired by Twitter. This is a huge moment for Rob, Zehan and their team – and an extraordinary endorsement of the team and the breakthrough technology they’ve built.
It’s astonishing that in such a short period of time, Magic Pony has become the global leader in applying unsupervised machine learning to the analysis, compression and comprehension of video. It’s exciting to consider what they’ll be able to achieve at Twitter, an iconic company that is already a leader in live social video and that has so many opportunities in the video space.
At Entrepreneur First, it’s a very proud moment: it’s been an enormous privilege to work closely with Rob and Zehan from the very beginning – since before they even knew each other – and to have watched their journey from world-class engineers to world-class entrepreneurs (though world-class engineers they remain!). Their drive and execution throughout has been remarkable.
For us, Rob and Zehan’s story is also a striking reinforcement of why the Entrepreneur First model works, why we bet on individual talent and why we bet on hard technology. We’re also delighted that EF Venture Partner Chris Mairs, as non-exec chairman, and EF Science Partner Daniel Rueckert, as an advisor, were able to make such important contributions.
Entrepreneur First invests in technical individuals before they have a company – almost always pre-team, often pre-idea – and works with them intensively for six months and beyond to support them to build startups. When we started the company almost five years ago, a lot of people politely told us this was crazy.
But we were stubborn – above all because we believed that the world had arrived at an extraordinary moment in history: exceptionally talented technical individuals can now achieve such leverage through technology without being part of a big company that all conventional wisdom about “what do careers look like?” or “where do startups come from?” can be thrown out of the window.
We believed that for people like Rob and Zehan, going to work at an investment bank or a big company – for a long time the default path outside Silicon Valley for ambitious people – was a terrible waste of their potential. But, before Entrepreneur First, if you didn’t already have a team, an idea and a product, no investor or accelerator would talk to you, so the path to becoming a founder was closed to you.
We believed that if you could create an institution that could take a bet on people like Rob and Zehan purely on the basis of their talent and then support them to start companies, incredible outcomes might be possible.
People thought the model was crazy because they underrated what exceptional talent can achieve today – particularly if they work on hard technology to solve important problems. It’s no surprise to us that our first big win as investors has come from backing a company doing something extraordinarily difficult. Solving big problems yields big rewards. Today, we support over 200 individuals a year to start companies and they work on everything from artificial intelligence to space technology and from robotics to infrastructure.
We want to be the place that the world’s most ambitious and talented technical individuals come to build their companies. Rob and Zehan are firmly in that category. We’re delighted for them and proud to have played a small part in their journey.
If the Entrepreneur First mission resonates with you and you’d like to start your own journey, we’d love to hear from you.