'Biggest mistake I ever made': The cofounder of a company Microsoft just bought for $250 million sold his stake for a bicycle

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 $250 million (£170 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 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 ($36 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.”

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 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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