Daily Crunch: Microsoft acquires Nuance for $19.7B

Microsoft makes a big healthcare tech acquisition, Twitter is building a presence in Africa and Apple may be cooking up some new smart home products. This is your Daily Crunch for April 12, 2021.

The big story: Microsoft acquires Nuance for $19.7B

Microsoft announced this morning that it’s acquiring speech-to-text company Nuance Communications for $19.7 billion. It seems like the real focus here is on healthcare — Microsoft announced a Cloud for Healthcare last year, while Nuance’s industry products include Dragon Ambient eXperience, Dragon Medical One and PowerScribe One for radiology reporting.

“Today’s acquisition announcement represents the latest step in Microsoft’s industry-specific cloud strategy,” the company said in a blog post.

Analysts told us that this could help Microsoft fill in crucial gaps when it comes to both speech recognition and health data.

The tech giants

Apple and Google will both attend Senate hearing on app store competition — After it looked like Apple might no-show, the company has committed to sending a representative to a Senate antitrust hearing on app store competition later this month.

Twitter to set up its first African presence in Ghana — In a statement, Twitter said it is now actively building a team in Ghana “to be more immersed in the rich and vibrant communities that drive the conversations taking place every day across the continent.”

Apple said to be developing Apple TV/HomePod combo and iPad-like smart speaker display — Apple is reportedly working on a couple of new options for a renewed entry into the smart home, according to Bloomberg.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Austin’s newest unicorn: The Zebra raises $150M after doubling revenue in 2020 — The Zebra started out as a site for people looking for auto insurance via its real-time quote comparison tool, and has added homeowners insurance as well.

Hardware is still hard in the Motor City — Astrohaus co-founder Adam Leeb describes the ups and downs of launching a hardware startup in Detroit.

EcoCart raises $3M for a Honey-like browser extension to offset shoppers’ carbon emissions — Brands pay the company a commission to drive traffic to their websites under a standard affiliate marketing model and EcoCart uses a portion of the proceeds to offset a shopper’s carbon emissions.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

How to choose and deploy industry-specific AI models — Organizations that seek the most accurate results from their AI projects will simply have to turn to industry-specific models.

UiPath’s first IPO pricing could be a warning to late-stage investors — The company’s first IPO price range failed to value the company where its final private backers expected it to.

Ride-hailing’s profitability promise is in its final countdown — The Exchange is back!

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Biden’s cybersecurity dream team takes shape — President Biden has named two former National Security Agency veterans to senior government cybersecurity positions, including the first national cyber director.

Tech and auto execs tackle global chip shortage at White House summit — A collection of tech and auto industry executives met with the White House to discuss solutions for the worldwide chip shortage today.

How one founder identified a huge healthcare gap and acquired the skills necessary to address it — We’ve already been telling you about TechCrunch’s new podcast Found, but now we’ve got the very first episode for your listening pleasure.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.