Microsoft has secured a deal to acquire Nuance Communications, in an arrangement valued at $16 billion (or about $19 billion inclusive of Nuance’s debt). Microsoft is paying $56 per share for the company.
The acquisition will see Nuance folded into Microsoft’s business and government-focused operations, with Microsoft eyeing opportunities in the healthcare sector in particular. Nuance offers a number of solutions based on its AI-driven speech and voice recognition technology, but its Dragon Medical platform for clinical dictation has been a particularly strong performer in recent months.
“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 announcing the acquisition. “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 for Healthcare and Nuance.”
Biometric security may also prove to be an important synergy. In Nuance’s most recent quarterly update, CEO Mark Benjamin noted strong demand from the enterprise sector for Nuance’s security and biometrics solutions. Microsoft, meanwhile, has been a prominent proponent of biometric security in recent years thanks in large part to its Windows Hello authentication system in Windows 10; and the company recently teamed up with a number of face biometrics partners to support its Azure AD decentralized identity initiative.
In its statement, Microsoft noted that beyond healthcare, Nuance also offers “AI expertise and customer engagement solutions across Interactive Voice Response (IVR), virtual assistants, and digital and biometric solutions to companies around the world across all industries,” adding, “This expertise will come together with the breadth and depth of Microsoft’s cloud, including Azure, Teams, and Dynamics 365, to deliver next-generation customer engagement and security solutions.”
The acquisition is expected to close sometime in the 2021 calendar year, subject to approval from Nuance’s shareholders as well as regulatory approvals. Mark Benjamin will continue to head Nuance under the leadership of Scott Guthrie, the head of Microsoft’s Cloud and AI Group.
Sources: CNBC, Variety, Microsoft
April 12, 2021 – by Alex Perala