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Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C

This man sold his stake in a €220 million company for a bike

He described it as “the biggest mistake I ever made”.

SWIFTKEY CO-FOUNDER Chris Hill-Scott sold his stake in the company in exchange for a bicycle months after the company was founded, meaning he missed out on any of the £174 million (€220 million) Microsoft paid, according to The Times.

Hill-Scott is now a developer for the UK government and tweeted that the decision to sell his stake was “the biggest mistake I ever made,” according to The Times. His Twitter account is now set to private.

SwiftKey, which developed a predictive text keyboard, was founded by ex-Cambridge students Chris Hill-Scott, Jon Reynolds, and Ben Medlock in 2008. According to The Guardian,

Reynolds and Medlock would have made around £25 million (€32 million) from the deal based on their ownership share of the company.

“When SwiftKey formed there were three founding members. Chris was a friend of Jon’s from school and Ben was a friend from his university in Cambridge,” said a SwiftKey spokesperson in a statement to The Times.

“Two months after forming the company, Chris decided to leave … Jon and Ben bought his shares. He left on good terms.”

It is believed the two bought our Hill-Scott with a bike.

PastedImage-67376 Twitter / Chris Hill-Scott Chris Hill-Scott Twitter / Chris Hill-Scott / Chris Hill-Scott

Microsoft bought SwiftKey because the founders developed a way, based on artificial intelligence, to accurately predict the words in upcoming sentences. In the blog post announcing the acquisition, the founders touted the time their app had saved.

Hill-Scott left before Reynolds and Medlock had developed the technology behind the predictive text, according to The Times, choosing to work as a civil servant. His salary is now around £55,000 (€68,000) a year.

The SwiftKey team has been absorbed into Microsoft and Microsoft Research, the 1,000-strong arm of the company dedicated to scientific research, but it’s unclear what they will be working on.

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Published with permission from
Business Insider
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