The Cloud

Microsoft Acquires Virtual Assistant Genee

The move advances Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's strategy of making Office 365 a leader in enterprise solutions.
Matthew HellerAugust 22, 2016

Microsoft is beefing up its cloud-based Office 365 enterprise platform by acquiring Genee, a productivity app that uses artificial intelligence to simplify the scheduling of meetings.

Microsoft’s vice president of Outlook and Office 365, Rajesh Jha, announced the deal Monday, saying Genee “will help us further our ambition to bring intelligence into every digital experience.” Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Genee was founded by Ben Cheung and Charles Lee in 2014 and, according to CrunchBase, had raised $1.45M in seed funding.

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“We consider Microsoft to be the leader in personal and enterprise productivity, AI, and virtual assistant technologies, so we look forward to bringing our passion and expertise to a team that is committed to delivering cutting-edge language and intelligence services,” Cheung and Lee said in a blog post.

The move fits into Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s strategy of making Office 365 a leader in enterprise solutions. In June, the company acquired LinkedIn for $26 billion.

Nadella has “pushed to connect Microsoft’s products to data sources that can provide customers with timely, useful information, and to develop services intended to anticipate information users want and actions they’ll take,” The Wall Street Journal said.

According to TechCrunch, Genee is “an end-to-end scheduling tool that integrates with calendar apps and email providers to take the strain out of arranging meetings.” The software uses AI to interpret an emailed meeting request, search through the sender’s calendar and suggest meeting times to the recipient.

Jha said Genee is “especially useful for large groups and for when you don’t have access to someone’s calendar,” adding that “interacting with a virtual assistant is just like interacting with a human one.”

In the quarter ended June 30, Office 365 subscribers increased to 23.1 million from 22.2 million in the previous three months. “Productivity and productivity apps remain a big focus for Microsoft as it continues to grapple with a mobile landscape dominated by other tech giants’ [operating systems],” TechCrunch said.