Microsoft Buys Smart Scheduling Service Genee for Office 365 Boost

A Mountain View, California-based startup that uses natural language processing and artificial intelligence for smarter scheduling is being acquired by Microsoft for an undisclosed amount.

Founded in 2014, Genee was designed to act as a virtual personal assistant to make it easier for two or more people to set up meetings or other kinds of get-togethers. In addition to working via email, the company's technology also uses chatbots for intelligent scheduling via text messages, Facebook Messenger, Twitter and Skype.

While Microsoft isn't providing details about how it will incorporate Genee's technology into its own, it appears likely the scheduling service will make an appearance on Outlook email and the cloud-based Office 365 productivity suite. Genee's co-founders, CEO Ben Cheung and president Charles Lee, are also both expected to join Microsoft.

Intelligence for 'Every Digital Experience'

"Genee uses natural language processing and optimized decision-making algorithms so that interacting with a virtual assistant is just like interacting with a human one," Rajesh Jha, Microsoft's corporate vice president for Outlook and Office 365, wrote yesterday in a blog post announcing the acquisition. "As we continue to build new Office 365 productivity capabilities and services our customers value, I'm confident the Genee team will help us further our ambition to bring intelligence into every digital experience."

In the wake of the Microsoft acquisition, Genee will be shutting down its service on September 1, Lee and Cheung said in a separate post on Genee's Web site. Available for free while it has been operating in beta, the Genee service will stop sending reminders and agendas after that date, although users will still have access to existing calendar entries.

"In our drive to deliver large productivity gains through intelligent scheduling coordination and optimization, we often found ourselves on the forefront of technology involving natural language processing, artificial intelligence...

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