Microsoft Buys Ray Ozzie’s Communications Startup Talko, Team Will Join Skype
Microsoft Acquires Talko By Ray Ozzie, Will Fold Into Skype.
Microsoft is buying Talko, the mobile messaging startup founded by Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s former Chief Software Architect until 2010. Talko’s tech lets users tag, bookmark, save, and search through phone conversations, letting workers share notes and snippets of conference calls with each other.
Talko will be shutting down in the next several months, according to a note on the startup’s website, and its technology will be integrated into existing Microsoft apps. “Today we’re announcing that Talko’s been acquired by Microsoft to help fuel future innovation in Skype and Skype for Business,” the note from the Talko team read. “As part of the Skype team, we’ll leverage Talko’s technology and the many things we’ve learned during its design and development. This time it’s Talko, a Boston-based startup dedicated to helping workgroups (or families or other sets of associates) collaborate using their smartphones. All of the startup’s employees in Seattle, Boston and San Francisco will be joining Skype and working from Microsoft locations in each of those cities — with one major exception. “I won’t be re-joining Microsoft, but I truly wish them well and look forward to seeing how Skype evolves as a result,” wrote Ozzie in a message to GeekWire this morning, praising Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “I continue to be deeply impressed with Satya’s leadership, and the company’s ambitions and progress in mobile productivity. We’ll strive to deliver the best of our product’s innovations far more broadly than on our current path.” Buying and getting the best from mobile marketing technology doesn’t need to be difficult. If this rings a bell to long-timers it’s because ten years ago Microsoft bought Groove Networks, Ozzie’s then Boston area startup geared for, yes, computer-assisted collaboration.
Communications innovation will clearly be key to those efforts.” Ozzie wrote of his latest startup, “I’m very proud of the team, and what it built and refined. Talko launched in September 2014 after years of development, offering a service that aimed to replace your usual conference line with VoIP, cloud-based calls. As far as existing Talko users are concerned they will be given the option to export all of their previous Talko text, voice and photo conversations and files. The app recorded the live conversations, and also offered additional features, like being about to create bookmarks within the conversation, tag users, and even add asynchronously shared voice-based follow ups to the conversation in question.
Before that, Ozzie invented the Lotus Notes software, one of the first tools for workplace collaboration, and a big reason why IBM purchased Lotus for $3.5 billion in 1995. Ozzie himself invested in the startup, as did Greylock Partners, Kapor Capital, and Andreessen Horowitz. “I welcome the new team members and am excited about how Talko will fuel more innovation at Microsoft, whether it is enhancing the way family members stay in touch with Skype or building on the new Skype for Business services within Office 365,” Skype corporate vice president Gurdeep Singh Pall wrote in a blog post. “This is another example of our company ambition to reinvent productivity and business processes. ” But from a corporate perspective this is also significant because it’s the latest big mobile-centric acquisition on the part of Microsoft, following email app Acompli, task management app Wunderlist, and calendar app Sunrise.
Update: Ozzie reached out via email to say he will not re-join Microsoft, but the rest of Talko’s San Francisco-, Seattle- and Boston-based employees will do so. Well he won’t be joining Microsoft that’s for sure. “I remain a builder, and I love helping great product teams have broad impact with their work.
The app lets users conduct and record conversations — with a focus on making voice calls and messages more accessible, interactive and collaborative. For all the value and enjoyment it’s delivered, and for all the team’s listening and perseverance, Talko was largely on the path to filling a (passionate) niche. Looking forward to figuring out what’s next.” Initially, Ozzie gained fame via Lotus Notes, development of which he led from Iris, a sort-of independent entity from Lotus. Notes did fine for years but ran into heavy headwinds in the form of the Microsoft Exchange Server-Sharepoint tandem, which took market- and mind-share from the trailblazer.
The developers seemed to have found a way not only for colleagues to know when others were online but to also retain audio or other notes of meetings and forward them when workgroup members were available. But since coming out of stealth in 2014, things have been quiet, causing some to wonder if Talko was gaining traction and if additional funding was scarce.
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