Microsoft just sent out a press advisory confirming that it is buying TellMe Networks. More details to follow after the press conference which begins in a few minutes. But here are some nuggets which our sources have sent our way:
1. The price is over $800 million but below a billion dollars. Microsoft and Tellme are not disclosing financial details.
2. While Microsoft has been trying to position Microsoft Business Division President Jeff Raikes as the guy who took the lead on this deal, the truth is that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was personally handling this deal. I have confirmed this with two people.
3. Mobile search is the impetus behind this deal, but TellMe is making over $100 million a year from selling automated call-center services to large companies like FedEx.
4. TellMe is going to become an independently run subsidiary of Microsoft.
5. Mike McCue and other senior executives are going to stay with the company. McCue worked at Netscape. Microsoft destroyed Netscape, and now Steve and Bill are making amends, it seems ;-)
Benchmark Capital is the largest outside shareholder in Tellme. By the way, this is another successful exit for The Barksdale Group, a venture fund started by Netscape refugees and their friends. Index Ventures’ Danny Rimer, now the new king of Euro Capital was one of the folks involved with TellMe. Another TBG alumnus, Quincy Smith is now running CBS Interactive, and perhaps teaching the old guys a hip-hop beat or two!