Nuance On Spinvox: ‘More Synergies Than We Expected’

Speech recognition outfit Nuance will unveil its plans for Spinvox, the troubled voice-to-text firm it bought for $102.5 million in December, at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February.

For now, Nuance has placed the firm in a new voice-to-text division run as general manager by Seattle-based John Pollard, EMEA marketing director Alan Ranger tells paidContent:UK. Pollard was CEO of Jott the note-taking service Nuance also bought in July.

Does that mean Spinvox’s leadership is out? CEO Christina Domecq and co-founder Daniel Doulton remain aboard “at present”, Ranger says: “It’s still fairly early. It’s down to them what they want to do.” As for Pollard: “He’s acting as the leader of the combined acquisition.”

Will Nuance retain Spinvox’s controversial overseas transcription centres?: “It depends entirely on the contractual obligations of the customer. Everyone who had a contract with SpinVox still has one with Nuance. All those commitments that were made, we’ll continue to honour them.” How about after they expire? “No decision has been taken – we’re trying to ensure it’s business as usual.” Private call centres were used by Spinvox in new territories, so that human operators could aid machine transcription until Spinvox’s software learned to understand local dialects itelf. Nuance acknowledged in its December announcement that the combined company would “comprise full and partial speech automation”.

How will the acquisition affect staff?: “It’s too early to define what will be used where, as it’s a new division. Will any of Spinvox’s Marlow staff be moved to Nuance in the U.S.? It’s network technology, so it doesn’t matter – we’ll let the talent be where it wants to be and work around them. I can’t see us centralising technology anywhere at the moment.” Nuance also has three UK offices, headquartered in Bracknell.

What does Nuance’s Spinvox integration look like?: “We’re very pleased. There are greater synergies than first thought. It’s become part of Nuance’s new voice-to-text division – we’ve created a new category. We’re known for our capabilities in speech recognition – the one thing Spinvox had achieved in a relatively short team was the internationalisation of the service, the ability to scale up to handle millions of messages every day. They had hosting facilities in Europe that we didn’t have.”

Have Spinvox’s debts been paid?: “We bought the company on a debt-free basis – we paid a mixture of stock and cash.”