The European Commission has just approved Microsoft’s $16 billion acquisition of Nuance Communications, the AI and speech tech company known for its Dragon Software (via Reuters). The acquisition was announced back in April, and it has already received antitrust approval in both the US and Australia.
Microsoft plans to leverage Nuance's technology to bolster its Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare and use the company's expertise and relationships with EHR systems providers to improve its reach in the healthcare provider space. The Redmond giant already announced that Mark Benjamin will remain CEO of Nuance, who will report to Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Cloud & AI at Microsoft.
In its decision, the European Commission explained that Microsoft and Nuance offered “very different products” and that this acquisition wouldn’t threaten the competition. "While Nuance offers mostly out-of-the-box solutions to end-users, Microsoft provides application programming interfaces ('APIs') as part of its Azure Cognitive Services that developers can use to integrate speech recognition technology into their programmes. Furthermore, the Commission considers that the combined entity will continue to face strong competition from other players," the decision reads.
Overall, Nuance is Microsoft's second-biggest acquisition after the $26.2 billion purchase of LinkedIn back in 2016. Beyond these two companies, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has made some pretty big bets since he got the job back in 2014, and one of his first big moves was the acquisition of Minecraft developer Mojang for $2.5 billion. Earlier this year, Microsoft also spent $7.5 billion to acquire ZeniMax Media/Bethesda to supercharge its Xbox Game Studios division.