I’m a big fan of Swype, and this is a brilliant acquisition by Nuance. Swype first launched at a TechCrunch conference in 2008. It’s software for mobile devices, and helps people input text at far faster speeds than through normal methods. It will soon be on over a hundred million devices.
Nuance already has T9, a predictive text application first developed in the 90s, and T9 competes directly with Swype. Oddly enough, the cofounder of Swype, Cliff Kushler, also founded T9. Check out this CNN article earlier this year on Kushler.
I have no idea how this acquisition affects the existing Nuance T9 product. I assume we’ll hear more about that in the future from Nuance.
Sidenote – Swype didn’t win the launch competition at the TechCrunch event. They came in second to Yammer. I wrote an article last year on why the best company doesn’t always win, even when the judges jump out of their chairs to try it out. From that article:
And like UJAM, Swype stole everyone’s hearts. People wanted to try Swype themselves, and you can see all the judges getting up from their seats after the demo to try it themselves. People were jumping up and down in the audience. Etc. Watch it all here.
Swype also had amazing founders, and since TechCrunch50 has gone on to do amazing things. Their software is now being built into tens of millions of mobile handsets a year, and they collect a fee for every install.
But at the time they just weren’t far enough along to win the show. Their first big licensing deals were ahead of them, and the judges felt more comfortable with Yammer as the winner. And like UJAM, a lot of audience members were really angry that Swype didn’t win it all.
Congratulations to the founders and executives (Mike McSherry, Cliff Kushler, Aaron Sheedy, Loreen Milbrath and Mark Illing), employees and investors (the company has raised just $14 million). I loved this application from the first time I saw it. Hopefully this acquisition will let the team continue to create even better technology to help us with those damned tiny keyboards. If this was a company that I met today for the first time, I’d invest aggressively in it (yes, I know, hindsight, etc. But you know what I mean).