Monday, June 20, 2011

Nuance corporate acquisition history

I'm sure most people aren't too surprised by last week's announcement of Nuance acquiring SVOX.  It makes a certain kind of sense, as SVOX was one of the last remaining SR vendors in the space.

This made me think about all the other speech acquisitions, where ScanSoft, or L&H or Nuance have made their mark by gobbling up other companies.  I spent a little time after breakfast this weekend researching all the speech companies that have been acquired by Nuance or a previous incarnation throughout the years.  I found it very interesting.  Hope you do too.

(NOTE: Click on the diagram to see the entire image.)

A couple of notes on the diagram:

  • BST stands for Berkley Speech Technologies, and L&H for Lernout & Hauspie.
  • The green boxes are where the acquiring company took the acquisition's name.  For example, when Visioneer acquired ScanSoft, they renamed the company ScanSoft.  Same thing when ScanSoft acquired Nuance--they took the better known name.
  • All of L&H's acquisition frenzy ended in L&H being hugely overvalued and going bankrupt.  So the "acquisition" by ScanSoft was actually ScanSoft picking through the ashes of the L&H dissolution.
  • Fonix as a speech company is still around, and they just announced this year they'll be spinning out Fonix Speech as a separate company to deal with speech in the gaming industry.  However, they also briefly had a stint in medical speech, where Fonix acquired Articulate Systems and  renamed that brand to Fonix HealthCare Solutions Group, which was then almost immediately sold off to L&H.
  • Dictaphone started as a company in 1923, but I chose to start the chart at 1971, since it wasn't at all clear when they made the move to start working on speech products.
  • The marks are only accurate to the year.  When two acquisition arrows are on the same year, the diagram may not show the exact chronological ordering within that year.

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