Why Microsoft spent $20 billion on Nuance
Image: Microsoft / Protocol
Good morning! This Tuesday, why Microsoft spent huge to buy Nuance, how Salesforce is planning to reopen its Bay Area offices next month, Tim Cook takes another shot at Facebook, and tech execs play the chip-shortage blame game.
Everyone assumed Apple would eventually buy Nuance. But instead, Microsoft snapped up the pioneering AI company for $19.7 billion. That's Microsoft's second-largest acquisition ever, by the way, behind only the $26 billion it dropped on LinkedIn.
Microsoft said the deal was all about health care when it announced the acquisition, which makes sense. Health care is a huge, hard-to-crack market, and one where Nuance has been hugely successful.
But Microsoft isn't paying $20 billion for a health care voice assistant. And in a way, Nuance's strengths map directly to a future Microsoft has struggled to figure out.
Microsoft is on a bit of a deal-making roll right now. As its stock price continues to climb — and while it avoids the antitrust scrutiny facing its largest competitors — Microsoft is clearly feeling spendy. It wanted TikTok; it's still in negotiations with Discord; it only just recently closed the $7.6 billion deal for ZeniMax. It's making some of the splashiest deals in tech right now, and it'll be interesting to see what comes next.
Oh, and some good news for Team Nuance: Reid Hoffman told CNBC yesterday that "one of the things I learned on the LinkedIn side is how good Satya and his team are at actually integrating companies, both operationally and culturally."
Anna Kramer writes: The doors of Salesforce Tower will be swishing open once more. There's just one catch: You have to be vaccinated to enter. Salesforce became the first company to tie reopening to vaccinations when it announced its return to work plan yesterday, offering up a "volunteer" return-to-office option for Bay Area employees who've been vaccinated. (That's one way to avoid the "vaccine mandate" arguments, I guess.)
Salesforce is trying hard to be a leader in helping companies return to the office, and the company said it has already learned some big things about post-pandemic work.
The pandemic upended life as we knew it. Most of us experienced the abrupt shift in the way we work, learn and connect, with blurring lines between office and home. While the future of work continues to evolve, the focus on a more engaged and fulfilled workforce will outlast the pandemic.
Apple is one step ahead of the U.S. privacy regulators, Tim Cook said:
Cook also took a shot at Epic's lawsuit:
After the semiconductor shortage summit with the White House, Intel's Pat Gelsinger said the country needs to act fast:
And the shortage is all America's fault, Huawei's Eric Xu said:
The Free Software Foundation said Richard Stallman is staying on the board:
Grab is getting SPAC'd, merging with Altimeter Growth Corp. in a deal that values the ride-sharing company at $39.6 billion. That's the biggest SPAC deal yet, by the way.
On Protocol | China : Ant Group is restructuring, after increased pressure from regulators and a failed IPO last fall.
Darktrace is planning to go public in London, The Wall Street Journal reported, hoping to be valued as high as $4 billion.
Twitter is building a team in Ghana, and is hiring on "several teams including product, design, engineering, marketing and communications."
A fun thing about autonomous vehicles is that when it comes to moving things like food and packages, it's often not the "driving to a place" that's the hard part. It's the "What happens when it gets there?" that's tough. Should the car drive into your living room? Whip the package at your door with a catapult? Domino's, ever the innovator, is going a little more conservative with a pilot test in Houston: You'll have to go outside to get your pizza, and plug in a PIN code to unlock the Nuro vehicle. So it's autonomous delivery, but only does 95% of the job? Definitely not tipping for that.
Companies all over the tech industry are making big promises and big plans for the coming decades, trying to do their part to fight climate change, promote equality and take a view of success longer than next quarter and wider than Wall Street. Our panel of industry leaders will examine these questions and more.
Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce, with help from Anna Kramer and Shakeel Hashim. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to email@example.com, or our tips line, firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy your day; see you tomorrow.