Nuance Communications (s nuan) finally pocketed SpinVox for a paltry $102.5 million, ending weeks of speculation about the fate of the troubled startup. The news marks a dramatic downturn for the company, which last year raised $100 million from a host of investors at a $500 million valuation.
SpinVox — which may have been pressed to sell thanks to its current struggle to repay a $48.8 million loan — boasts a fairly impressive list of customers including Bell Mobility, Rogers Wireless, Vodafone Spain and Skype, and the company’s algorithms and language databases probably hold some value. So the deal appears to be a bargain for Nuance, which gets some large carrier customers and new languages with the acquisition. These should help as Nuance takes on both Google (s goog) and Microsoft (s msft) as voice recognition continues to expand into the mainstream thanks to mobile phones. For the investors who backed the startup so strongly, though, it’s a costly resolution to SpinVox’s troubled run.