- Microsoft is buying AI speech tech firm Nuance.
- Tech giant to spend for $19.7 billion.
- This is Microsoft's second biggest acquisition.
Microsoft has made its second biggest acquisition after LinkedIn. The tech giant has bought AI speech tech firm Nuance for $19.7 billion. The move will help Microsoft's prowess in voice recognition and will give it a boost in the health care market, where Nuance has strong presence too. As part of this deal, Microsoft will pay $56 per share for Nuance, a 23 percent premium over the company's closing price last Friday. The deal includes Nuance's net debt.
In 2016, Microsoft had purchased LinkedIn for $26 billion. That remains to be its biggest acquisition till now with Nuance purchase slating in at the second spot. The development comes at a time when speech tech is improving because of AI and will have more opportunities of use.
Nuance is known for its Dragon software which helps to transcribe speech using deep learning. It is also believed to improve accuracy over time by adapting user's voice. The company has licensed this technology for many services and applications, including Apple's Siri.
Microsoft can use Nuance's technology with its existing software like Teams or even offer it independently as part of its Azure cloud business.
"By augmenting the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare with Nuance's solutions, as well as the benefit of Nuance's expertise and relationships with EHR systems providers, Microsoft will be better able to empower healthcare providers through the power of ambient clinical intelligence and other Microsoft cloud services," said Microsoft in a blog post.
Both the companies have worked together on the past. In 2019, they announced a strategic partnership to use Nuance's software to digitize health records for Microsoft's clients.
"Nuance provides the AI layer at the healthcare point of delivery and is a pioneer in the real-world application of enterprise AI," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a statement. "AI is technology's most important priority, and healthcare is its most urgent application. Together, with our partner ecosystem, we will put advanced AI solutions into the hands of professionals everywhere to drive better decision-making and create more meaningful connections, as we accelerate growth of Microsoft Cloud in Healthcare and Nuance."
Microsoft has been considering other purchases as well. Last year, it was very close of buying social media app TikTok and has recently completed $7.5 billion acquisition of games company ZeniMax.