Microsoft Buys Ray Ozzie’s Communications Startup Talko, Team Will Join Skype

Microsoft is buying Talko, the mobile messaging startup founded by Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s former Chief Software Architect until 2010. The company says today the acquisition, whose terms were not disclosed, involves the Talko technology and the team. Talko employees will now join Skype, while Talko itself is being shut down. Ozzie, however, will not be rejoining Microsoft as a part of the deal.

Talko launched in September 2014 after years of development, offering a service that aimed to replace your usual conference line with VoIP, cloud-based calls. The app recorded the live conversations, and also offered additional features, like being about to create bookmarks within the conversation, tag users, and even add asynchronously shared voice-based follow ups to the conversation in question.

According to Microsoft’s announcement about the acquisition, the Talko technology and the talent joining Skype will be used to help “deliver great new features and capabilities” in both Skype and Skype for Business. Meanwhile, a post on Talko’s website notes that the Talko app and its service will be sunsetted over the next several months, and will be entirely shut down by March 2016. As a part of this process, Talko will allow its current customers to export their past conversations, including voice, text and photos.

Neither company clarified what Talko features, specifically, will be introduced into Skype in the future, only that the Talko team will take its learnings and tech to the Skype team.

As to why the startup decided to sell, the Talko post is actually transparent about its issues, noting that:

“…the reality is that the broad-based success of communications apps tends to be binary: A small number of apps earn and achieve great viral growth, while most fall into some stable niche. For all the value and enjoyment it’s delivered, and for all the team’s listening and perseverance, Talko was largely on the path to filling a (passionate) niche. We’re in this to have great impact, so it’s time for a change.”

This is not the first time Ozzie, the Lotus Notes founder, has sold a company to Microsoft. He also previously sold his startup Groove Networks to Microsoft in 2005, and later became the Chief Software Architect.

ZDNet notes this is Microsoft’s 20th acquisition during the calendar year, if you’re keeping track.