Microsoft Dials Up TellMe

Computer software giant Microsoft said today they were acquiring Tellme Networks, a provider of voice services for various functions such as nationwide directory assistance, enterprise customer service and voice-enabled mobile search. Financial terms of the deal were not announced, though it had been reported by the Wall Street Journal the deal could be worth upwards of $800 million.

Microsoft said in a press release they could see using Tellme’s voice technology across a number of areas, including "hosted voice-enabled customer service solutions that complement Microsoft’s existing unified communications offerings to voice user interfaces in existing Microsoft products to search services on mobile phones that integrate with Live Search for mobile offerings." They also feel this is a large step forward in adding software plus services which bring people in various settings in closer touch with technology solutions.

The deal, expected to close in the second quarter of this year, will keep TellMe operating from its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters as part of the Microsoft Business Division. The company, founded in 1999, expects members of its executive team and staff to join Microsoft.

"Speech is universal, simple and holds incredible promise as a key interface for computing," said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft, in a statement. "Tellme brings to Microsoft the talent, technology and proven experience in speech that will enable us to deliver a new wave of products and revolutionize human-computer interaction."

"Tellme was founded with the idea that anyone should be able to simply say what they want and get it from any device, starting with the phone," added Mike McCue, co-founder and CEO of Tellme. "Now, with Microsoft, we’ll be able to extend that vision to millions of businesses and consumers around the world."

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