Microsoft buys AI scheduling tool Genee to make Office 365 smarter

Microsoft has picked up another productivity app — announcing the acquisition of AI-powered scheduling tool Genee. In a blog post today the software giant said it will be plugging Genee into its cloud productivity suite, Office 365. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“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,” writes Rajesh Jha, CVP of Outlook and Office 365.

Genee launched in public beta a year ago, offering an end-to-end scheduling tool that integrates with calendar apps and email providers to take the strain out of arranging meetings.

The app works by being CCed in emails, and using natural language processing to parse the contents of the email to understand the key requirements for the meeting — and then automatically sending out a meeting invite on your behalf. So it’s arguably an early example of the AI-powered chatbots now springing up all over the place. There are a set of standard commands Genee understands by default but users can also create their own custom commands.

Microsoft notes the tool is “especially useful for large groups for when you don’t have access to someone’s calendar”. Genee’s co-founders, Ben Cheung and Charles Lee, “plan” to join the company, it adds.

In their own blog post on the acquisition the co-founders write: “We consider Microsoft to be the leader in personal and enterprise productivity, AI, and virtual assistant technologies, so we look forward to bringing our passion and expertise to a team that is committed to delivering cutting-edge language and intelligence services.”

They also note the Genee app will shut down on September 1 (although all existing calendar entries created with it will remain, as you’d hope) — as was also the case with another recent Microsoft productivity app acquisition, the Sunrise calendar.

Productivity and productivity apps remains a big focus for Microsoft as it continues to grapple with a mobile landscape dominated by other tech giant’s OSes.

According to CrunchBase Genee had raised $1.45M in seed funding since being founded in 2014 — with investors including Uj Ventures, Streamline Ventures and Garnett Ventures.