In a blog post, Nuance says that the company “will leverage SpinVox’s carrier-grade voice-to-text infrastructure, network product portfolio, multi-language support and experienced UK-based development teams to further drive and accelerate adoption of voice-to-text around the world.
In recent months doubts had been cast on how effective Spinvox’s speech-to-text software actually was.
An investigation by the BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones alleged that the company transfers voicemail data out of the European Union to call centres in South Africa and the Philippines, in breach of its entry on the UK Data Protection Register, and that most of the transcription is done by humans rather than software. SpinVox admitted that “parts of messages can be sent to a ‘conversion expert’”, but also claimed that “the part sent is anonymised so that there is no way of tracking back a particular number or person”.
The BBC’s claims left many, including its investors, to believe the company simply wasn’t scalable. Despite the promise of its technology, SpinVox stumbled this summer when it ran out of cash and was hit with allegations of financial mismanagement and use of overseas call centers rather than software for much of its voice-to-text conversion.
For Spinvox, it’s a rather sad end. The company was founded in 2003 by Christina Domecq and Daniel Doulton and raised $200 million in funding. Nuance paid $102 million, $66 million in cash and $36.5 million in stock.
For Nuance however it’s merely the latest acquisition to add to a year of buyouts, including eCopy Inc., a Nashua, N.H.-based systems provider for integrating paper documents into business software applications, and a February acquisition of mobile advertising software maker Zi Corp. for $35 million in cash and stock. The Spinvox acquisition will enable Burlington-based Nuance, which is primarily known for its voice recognition software, to expand into the voice-to-text business.
For existing Spinvox customers, Nuance insists they need not worry about any change or interruption in service.