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Nuance Communications, Inc.
FormerlyScanSoft, Inc.
Company typeSubsidiary
Founded1992; 32 years ago (1992)
as Visioneer
HeadquartersBurlington, Massachusetts, U.S.
Key people
Chairman and CEO Mark Benjamin
ProductsIVR, natural language understanding, OCR, speech synthesis, speech recognition, PDF, consulting, government contracts
Number of employees
6,500+ (2021)

Nuance Communications, Inc. is an American multinational computer software technology corporation, headquartered in Burlington, Massachusetts, that markets speech recognition and artificial intelligence software.

Nuance merged with its competitor in the commercial large-scale speech application business, ScanSoft, in October 2005. ScanSoft was a Xerox spin-off that was bought in 1999 by Visioneer, a hardware and software scanner company, which adopted ScanSoft as the new merged company name. The original ScanSoft had its roots in Kurzweil Computer Products.

In April 2021, Microsoft announced it would buy Nuance Communications. The deal is an all-cash transaction of $19.7 billion, including company debt, or $56 per share.[1] The acquisition was completed in March 2022.


The company that would become Nuance was incorporated in 1992 as Visioneer. In 1999, Visioneer acquired ScanSoft, Inc. (SSFT), and the combined company became known as ScanSoft. In September 2005, ScanSoft Inc. acquired and merged with Nuance Communications, a natural language spinoff from SRI International. The resulting company adopted the Nuance name. During the prior decade, the two companies competed in the commercial large-scale speech application business.[2]


ScanSoft origins

In 1974, Raymond Kurzweil founded Kurzweil Computer Products, Inc. to develop the first omni-font optical character-recognition system – a computer program capable of recognizing text written in any normal font. In 1980, Kurzweil sold his company to Xerox.[3] The company became known as Xerox Imaging Systems (XIS), and later ScanSoft.[citation needed]

In March 1992, a new company called Visioneer, Inc. was founded to develop scanner hardware and software products, such as a sheetfed scanner called PaperMax[4] and the document management software PaperPort. Visioneer eventually sold its hardware division to Primax Electronics, Ltd. in January 1999. Two months later, in March, Visioneer acquired ScanSoft from Xerox to form a new public company with ScanSoft as the new company-wide name.[citation needed]

Prior to 2001, ScanSoft focused primarily on desktop imaging software such as TextBridge,[5] PaperPort and OmniPage. Beginning with the December 2001 acquisition of Lernout & Hauspie assets, the company moved into the speech recognition business and began to compete with Nuance. Lernout & Hauspie had acquired speech recognition company Dragon Systems in June 2001, shortly before becoming bankrupt in October.[6][7] Scansoft acquired speech recognition company SpeechWorks in 2003.[8]

Partnership with Siri and Apple Inc.

In 2013, Nuance confirmed that its natural language processing algorithms supported Apple's Siri voice assistant.[9]

Focus on health care

In 2019, Nuance spun off its automotive division as the company Cerence, allowing it to focus on health care applications.[10]

Acquisition by Microsoft

On April 12, 2021, Microsoft announced that it will buy Nuance Communications for $19.7 billion, or $56 a share, a 22% increase over the previous closing price.[11][12] Nuance's CEO, Mark Benjamin, stayed with the company. This was Microsoft's second-biggest acquisition up to that point, after its purchase of LinkedIn for $24 billion (~$29.9 billion in 2023) in 2016.[13] Shortly after the deal, the Competition and Markets Authority, a UK regulatory body, stated it was looking into the deal on the basis of antitrust concerns.[14] In December 2021, it was reported that the deal would be approved by the European Union.[15] The acquisition was completed on March 4, 2022.[16]

In May 2023, Nuance announced an unspecified number of layoffs.[10]

See also


  1. ^ "Report of unscheduled material events or corporate event » Microsoft 8K". April 12, 2021. Retrieved April 14, 2021.
  2. ^ "SCANSOFT, INC. (nuance Communications, Inc.)". Retrieved April 12, 2021.
  3. ^ "Kurzweil Computer Products, Inc." Archived November 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine Smithsonian Speech Synthesis History Project (SSSHP) 1986–2002
  4. ^ Flynn, Mary Kathleen; Wiener, Leonard (November 20, 1994). "Neat Gadgets to Drool Over". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on October 13, 2012.
  5. ^ "Nuance - TextBridge Pro 11". January 4, 2010. Archived from the original on January 4, 2010. Retrieved April 12, 2021.
  6. ^ "Dragon Systems purchased by Lernout & Hauspie". New York Times. May 7, 2001.
  7. ^ "Goldman Is Cleared Over a Sale Gone Awry". New York Times. January 23, 2013.
  8. ^ "Technology Briefing | Deals: Scansoft To Acquire Speechworks For $132 million". The New York Times. The Associated Press. April 25, 2003. Retrieved July 5, 2023.
  9. ^ Bostic, Kevin (May 30, 2013). "Nuance confirms its voice technology is behind Apple's Siri".
  10. ^ a b Aaron Pressman (May 20, 2023). "Layoffs hit Nuance after Microsoft acquisition". The Boston Globe.
  11. ^ Kovach, Steve (April 12, 2021). "Microsoft makes its second biggest acquisition, buys AI speech tech company Nuance for $19.7 billion". CNBC. Retrieved April 12, 2021.
  12. ^ Speed, Richard. "Microsoft digs deep for chatty AI specialist Nuance, bids $19.7bn to bolster healthcare chops". The Register. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  13. ^ Murphy, Mike. "Microsoft in talks to buy Nuance Communications for around $16 billion: reports". MarketWatch. Retrieved April 12, 2021.
  14. ^ Lomas, Natasha (December 13, 2021). "UK's antitrust watchdog is taking a look at Microsoft-Nuance". TechCrunch. Retrieved December 13, 2021.
  15. ^ Chee, Foo Yun (December 10, 2021). "EXCLUSIVE Microsoft's $16 billion Nuance bid set for EU antitrust approval -sources". Reuters. Retrieved December 14, 2021.
  16. ^ Holt, K. (March 4, 2022). "Microsoft completes its $19.7 billion purchase of voice-tech company Nuance". Engadget. Retrieved March 5, 2022.