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March 13, 2007

Microsoft buying Tellme? (redux)

Posted by David Hunter at 10:50 AM ET.

In February there was a rumor that Microsoft was acquiring mobile phone applications vendor Tellme, but it was promptly denied. Now the rumor is back and the purported price tag is a whopper according to Om Malik:

Microsoft Corp. is said to be talks to acquire Tellme Networks, a voice applications company, according to The Wall Street Journal and C/Net News.com.

The talks continue, but some of our sources say don’t expect an announcement Tuesday. The two outlets speculate that Tellme could fetch up to $800 million, but our source, someone quite familiar with the company say that the price is north of the reported numbers.

Even an $800 million price tag would make it the fourth largest acquisition in the history of Microsoft. Why would Microsoft pay such a hefty price? C/Net speculates that the Tellme technologies could find their way into enterprise applications. Microsoft is betting heavily on the convergence of data and voice.

The real reason will be Microsoft Mobile and non-PC devices where Tellme’s voice interface and back-end server technologies can come in quite handy.

“The leading edge battleground between us and Google in local search really will come on the phone,” Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer told the WSJ back in May 2006.

Both explanations could be correct since Microsoft’s Unified Communications Group is part of Microsoft’s Business Division (mostly Office) under Jeff Raikes who was suggested as the receiving executive in the CNET article. I’m still puzzled how Tellme’s open standards platform and Java mobile phone client fit in with Microsoft’s mobile plans, but if the deal goes through, I’m sure we will be treated to some sort of explanation.



Filed under Acquisitions, Executives, Jeff Raikes, Microsoft, Tellme

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One Response to “Microsoft buying Tellme? (redux)”

  1. Microsoft acquires Tellme Networks -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] The previous rumors were confirmed today as Microsoft formally announced the acquitisition of Tellme Networks: Microsoft Corp. today announced it will acquire Tellme Networks, Inc., a leading provider of voice services for everyday life, including nationwide directory assistance, enterprise customer service and voice-enabled mobile search. Microsoft and Tellme share a vision around the potential of speech as a way to enable access to information, locate other people and enhance business processes, any time and from any device. Combining Tellme’s talented people and expertise in high-volume voice services with Microsoft’s platform, resources and worldwide customer reach will inspire new and innovative solutions. … Tellme is a leader in voice services for the phone, including its popular mobile search services on 1-800-555-TELL. Founded in 1999, the privately held company answers millions of calls every day for information such as finding local businesses, driving directions, sports scores, stock quotes, weather, news, movie show times and more. Businesses use Tellme’s voice services and platform to provide customers with voice-access services ranging from banking to package tracking. These services are built on Tellme’s voice platform that analyzes caller requests to continually improve the system’s accuracy and overall caller experience. [...]

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