The reports on this were correct: Microsoft has made a big play in mobile/voice search and has bought TellMe, a provider of nationwide directory assistance, enterprise customer service and voice-enabled mobile search. The price was not disclosed, but if reports are true ($800 million to a billion) they will have to disclose it in SEC filings down the line. Tellme is profitable and has raised over $235 million in venture funding prior to this....this will be Microsoft?s biggest purchase since 2002.
?Potential areas of development resulting from the deal will range from 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.? The company?s service is already used to fixed-line consumer services such as finding local businesses, driving directions, sports scores, stock quotes, weather, news, movie show times and more, so mobile voice search is a natural extension of that.
The deal is expected to be completed in Q2 this year. Tellme, which has more than 320 employees, will continue to operate from its Mountain View, CA, headquarters as part of the Microsoft Business Division. The Tellme business is expected to be maintained, and members of the Tellme executive team and staff are expected to join Microsoft.
Bloomberg: Tellme had backing from former leaders at Microsoft. Browser rival Netscape CEO and co-founder Mike McCue will join Microsoft after the purchase is completed. Another co-founder, Hadi Partovi, was a former Microsoft Internet executive. Early investors in the company included former Microsoft SVP Brad Silverberg and Netscape CEO James Barksdale. The company also sold stakes to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Benchmark Capital in 1999.