Brighton graduate sells to Facebook

Willy Blandin has fond memories of Brighton University
Willy Blandin has fond memories of Brighton University

A University of Brighton graduate has sold the Silicon Valley company he co-founded.

Only five years after graduating, a University of Brighton graduate has sold the Silicon Valley company he co-founded to Facebook for an undisclosed sum.

Willy Blandin, who was awarded a first-class honours degree in European Computing, co-launched in 2013 Wit.ai, a California-based company that provides natural language processing applications for speech recognition that allows users to talk to their phones and other devices.

Mr Blandin, who is working with Facebook following the acquisition, said he had fond memories of his time at the university.

Jane Challenger Gillitt, his tutor and course leader for European Computing said: “Will was a studious and very popular student and we’re delighted for him.”

Professor Andrew Lloyd, dean of the university’s College of Life, Health and Physical Sciences, said: “It’s great to see our graduates doing so well.”

Unconfirmed reports put the sale prices as high as $10 million (£6.6 million).

Wit.ai’s market niche dovetails with Facebook’s mission to connect everyone and build experiences for its 1.3 billion people on the platform.

In a blogpost, Wit.ai said: “Facebook's mission is to connect everyone and build amazing experiences for the over 1.3 billion people on the platform - technology that understands natural language is a big part of that, and we think we can help.”

Mr Blandin's degree was a collaboration with the Paris Descartes University and resulted in a joint BSc and DEST Informatique and is unique in the University of Brighton.