Facebook has acquired natural language processing technology developer Bloomsbury AI for up to $30m, enabling UCL Technology Fund and the London Co-investment Fund to exit.

Bloomsbury AI, a UK-based natural language processing (NLP) technology spinout from University College of London (UCL), has been acquired by social media network operator Facebook for an undisclosed sum, TechCrunch reported this week.

The deal is expected to be priced between $23m and $30m and could involve a combination of cash and stock, according to sources cited by TechCrunch. It represents an exit for UCL’s Technology Fund.

Founded in 2015, Bloomsbury has developed a software-based virtual assistant called Cape that uses machine learning and natural language processing to decipher queries based on the content of websites or documents.

Facebook will use Bloomsbury’s NLP expertise to support internal efforts to cut down on fraudulent news and other problematic content on its platform, sources told TechCrunch. The corporate confirmed yesterday that the Bloomsbury team is joining its London office.

Bloomsbury was co-founded by Sebastian Riedel, a reader and associate professor at the UCL Department of Computer Science who specialises in NLP, machine learning and information extraction. Its backers also include London Co-investment Fund, according to TechCrunch.

Riedel had previously co-founded Factmata, a fact checking technology developer for which he still acts as an adviser.

Bloomsbury had raised a total of $1.7m in funding according to Silicon Angle, having initially received $13,600 in pre-seed funding in September 2016 through its participation in the Entrepreneur First accelerator.

The company added an undisclosed amount in a summer 2017 seed round backed by investors including UCL Technology Fund, IQ Capital, Fly Ventures and Seedcamp.