Nuance To Acquire Swype For $100+ Million

Nuance has acquired Seattle-based startup Swype for something more than $100 million, says a source with knowledge of the deal.

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).

54 thoughts on “Nuance To Acquire Swype For $100+ Million

  1. I always loved this tech, but it was never on a device I wanted to own. Maybe that will now change going forward

  2. Is this really a good move? For how long will we still type messages?

  3. Ashutosh says:

    Never used a touchscreen phone and hence, never used Swype but I have always heard good things about these guys. All the very best to them and congratulations. 🙂

  4. “If this was a company that I met today for the first time, I’d invest aggressively in it.”

    Can’t wait to meet for the first time. Really.

  5. Tendai Sean Joe says:

    I would really like to say this is inspiring for any start-up trying to be noticed out there. Fact is, if your product or service is relevant, all will work out one day!

    Congratulations to Swype

  6. I oftenly have a hard time typing on someone else’s phone, and get irritated that I have to type every letter, thanks to swype :)!

    A Good Win for Swype !

  7. Congratulations to the Swype team and to the Seattle community!

  8. Sam says:

    I cannot see a logo on the homepage header, is there a new logo coming?

  9. And folks said Seattle is a terrible place to start a tech company….HAH!

  10. Michael, invest in our fantastic App bringing social networking to social payments. Its hip and fun so please check it out before $102 million is offered 🙂

  11. Absolutely love Swype! I used to be adamant about having a physical keyboard until I started using Swype. Brilliant stuff

  12. Whats up with the square thingy? Thought I was getting spammed for a second.

  13. Jagat says:

    I find SwiftKey far far better than Swype.

  14. Lucretia Pruitt says:

    If every new tech were so easy to predict, it wouldn’t require the visionary entrepreneurs willing to keep pushing on despite seeing others funded around them.
    I think there’s a mistaken belief that it just takes excitement to predict a winner. Very few people get that investors are taking a risk not just on the potential market, but also on the ability of the founding team to execute the vision successfully.
    That UJAM, Swype, and Yammer were all up on that stage says a lot about the ability of y’all to pick *potential* Mike.
    Congrats to the Swype team. They clearly do have “what it takes.”

  15. The first time I saw Swype was on of those brilliant ‘aha’ moments. Knew right then that it was destined to be successful. Congratulations to the team

  16. I feel like Swipe will be killed after Google implements BlindType though

  17. Philippe Chanet says:

    I’ve been using ShapeWriter on iOS for several months and it offers a similar swiping/typing technology – the integration with the OS may not be perfect (you can’t summon ShapeWriter from within another app), but the ‘typing’ experiemce is excellent.

  18. Arsenal says:

    Absolutely love Swype! very great to see it moving forward like this

  19. jinnen says:

    i love swype its very useful.

  20. Steven says:

    That’s a lot of money.

  21. noname says:

    I like swype as a tehnology, but… In Symbian devices (got N8 my self) the keybord crashes once in a while leaving you no option to complete your message. Or there is one way. Save message to the draft and exit message program, then go back and complete message…

    So I’m still waiting the stable version of this, wonder if Symbian is only platform with these problems.

    Btw. what do you think are the possibilities to WP adopt swype, or Tizen to adot it?

  22. kosso says:

    Wow. Incredible way to own the interfaces between humans and (pocket) devices.

    From T9 predicitve text on older feature phones to powering Siri on the iPhone 4S and now Swype (pre-installed on Android Gingerbread – on mine it was, at least). Buttons, touch and voice.

    Great strategy.

  23. Miguonet says:

    If the voice can be used to send text messages, it would be wonderful to do more

  24. Michael says:

    TouchPal keyboard is even better than Swype + SwiftKey. Check it out on Android market.

  25. Reagy says:

    Swype is a poor substitute to actually learning, through practice, repetition and simply knowing how to use the onscreen keyboard properly.  I type on my iPhone in landscape mode at between 30-45 wpm depending on the subject and I DON’T USE AUTOCORRECT!  
    I speak from experience, having used Swype for about a month.  Compared to the stock Android keyboard (I also own a Samsung Galaxy), pretty much anything is better.  The stock Android keyboard is not in the same league as the iPhone keyboard which is multi-touch (technically the Android keyboard should but it’s not), responsive and the keys work seamlessly.  
    My advice if you’re using an iPhone:  download an app that can help you improve your speed and accuracy such as ‘Typing Test’.  It really works, trust me.

  26. Yaron Samid says:

    Love second place winners. 🙂

  27. Swype is a very nice app however pretty expensive actually. Then what will be the bargain for that amount of cheese for the end users?

  28. John Best says:

    Congrats to the Swype team.

  29. Congratulations to Swype. I have a video of them up here, where they go into their business in depth:

    Great stuff and I picked them to win Techcrunch Disrupt, although Yammer is probably the better choice in hindsight.

  30. That was a hard decision for us to make. I remember our debate between yammer, good guide and swype.

    yammer was the most fully baked, and given their $200-300M valuation right now we made the right decision.

    it was the best core tech

  31. Ariyas says:

    Congrats to the Swype.

  32. Matt Labour says:

    Totally liking the fact that TC now uses Uncrunched as a news resource 🙂

  33. Congrats to the Swype team. Can’t wait for the iOS version.

  34. wow. mike is back 🙂

  35. david says:

    Hey, just thought I’d let you know that if this site was updated more often I’d much rather read tech news here than on techcrunch. I value your insight and your writing style and I’m tired of the fluff pieces that are written on all the other tech blogs.

    I hope you’re well.

  36. Robin McFee says:

    This is great! Geoff Entress backed Swype so he should be in a good mood for our meeting next week.

  37. Does anyone know if Nuance tech is part of the Siri feature on the 4S?

  38. Azzam Sheikh says:

    Swype is the type of tool that is ideal for those adopting the lastest smart phone technology. When swype received comments from users stating that their choice of phone is dependent on whether swype is compatitble is strong sentiment of the embrace that swype has gathered from its userbase.

    Also on the ‘black market’ Swype is one of the most popular distributed application based on downloads and reportings.

    Hopeful this invest will have a significant contribution on its R&D department although there are many significant and relevant updates that can be found with swype in consistent batches.

  39. Nuance is the company behind Siri and Swype right? Now, with Apple owning the Siri app, wouldn’t this be a clash of interest between Swype and Siri? Because Siri is all about voice-based commands – it’s an Assistant as the Apple site puts it, where as Swype is only about texting. If Siri eventually evolves to be a good voice-command feature and goes mainstream, why need texting at all then? This is only for Apple phones. The rest of the mobile eco-system would have to depend on texting I guess. chk this article out

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