Microsoft’s worthwhile enterprise means it has cash to spend. It ended 2020 with $132 billion in money, and has been actively searching for large offers to place that cash to make use of. Some have come collectively, just like the deal introduced in September to spent $7.5 billion on shopping for ZeniMax Media, the mum or dad firm of gaming studios that make main titles like Doom and Quake.
However different potential acquisitions haven’t at all times panned out. Final yr, it thought of a blockbuster deal to purchase TikTok, the viral social community, although that fell aside below White Home meddling. It has additionally checked out shopping for Discord, a dwell chat neighborhood largely utilized by avid gamers, although the standing of these talks is unclear.
Nuance was a pioneer within the area of speech recognition that led the market within the Nineteen Nineties and 2000s and offered a part of the underlying expertise for Siri, the speaking digital assistant that made its debut on the Apple iPhone in 2011. Licensing expertise to Apple and different firms was a key a part of its enterprise.
However the area underwent a sea change in 2010, when a workforce of researchers at a Microsoft analysis lab outdoors Seattle constructed a brand new sort of speech recognition system utilizing a technique referred to as “deep studying.” This methodology — which was far simpler than earlier applied sciences — quickly unfold throughout the trade, with firms like Microsoft, Google, and IBM rising to the fore.
That is the expertise that now permits Siri, the Google Assistant and different digital assistants to acknowledge spoken phrases with close to human-level accuracy. Firms like Microsoft and Google additionally promote the expertise to different firms by way of what are referred to as cloud computing companies.
After this technological shift, Nuance revamped its personal enterprise, providing speech recognition and different applied sciences for particular markets, most notably well being care. In buying the corporate, Microsoft positive factors a longtime set of consumers in addition to a wide selection of speech and textual content information associated to well being care, which is commonly an important a part of constructing new methods.
“The deal offers Microsoft entry to half 1,000,000 medical doctors and a number of the largest hospitals all over the world,” mentioned Dan Ives, managing director of fairness analysis with Wedbush Securities.