$16 billion for speech firm Nuance?Speech technology used to be very hot during the dot com boom of the late 1990s. Now word is going around about a possible $16 billion acquisition of Nuance Communications. The interesting back story here is that Nuance is the company that bought the speech technology division of Lernout & Hauspie, one of the big speech recognition firms of the 1990s. Lernout & Hauspie was a Belgium-based company, it went bankrupt in 2001 after a major financial scandal.
According to Bloomberg, a deal could be announced as early as this week. If it goes through, it will be Microsoft's second-largest acquisition ever.
Microsoft and Nuance have collaborated since 2019 on technologies to do things like allow doctors to capture voice conversations from patient visits and enter the data into electronic medical records.Nuance primarily focuses on the business market but its technology is also used by Apple's Siri assistant.
“This can really help Microsoft accelerate the digitization of the health-care industry, which has lagged other sectors such as retail and banking,” said Anurag Rana, a Bloomberg Intelligence senior analyst. “The biggest near-term benefit that I can see is in the area of telehealth, where Nuance transcription product is currently being used with Microsoft Teams.”