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Microsoft Acquires Nuance for $16 billion

Microsoft announced its plans to purchase Nuance for $56 per share which is 23% above what the share price closed last Friday. The deal adds up to a total valuation for Nuance of about $19.7 billion and a $16 billion cash outlay. This deal includes the company’s assumed debt as well.

Nuance is well known for being a player in natural language recognition. The technology used by the company is the core of Apple’s Siri personal assistant. It sells Dragon NaturallySpeaking speech recognition software, which is invaluable to many people with a wide range of physical disabilities.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking was officially released in 1997 and was one of the first commercially available continuous dictation products. The software does not require the user to pause between two words. In 2000, Dragon Systems was acquired by ScanSoft which acquired Nuance Communications and rebranded itself to Nuance in 2005.

Markov models were used in the earlier versions of the Dragon Software to puzzle out the meaning of human speech. However, the method has had serious limitations compared to the modern AI algorithms. In 2009, Fei-Fei Li, a Stanford researcher created ImageNet-a massive training data set that spawned the deep-learning algorithms.

Since 2019, Microsoft and Nuance began a partnership to deliver ambient clinical intelligence (ACI) technologies to health care providers. Reduced physician burnout and increased efficiency are two major intentions of the ACI technology by offloading the tasks to computers. Acquiring Nuance would give Microsoft direct access to the company’s entire health care customer list.

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