Microsoft To Make Office 365 More Conversational with Acquisition of AI Startup Genee. Microsoft is giving Cortana, the company’s AI-based personal digital assistant, a boost with the addition of Genee, a startup Microsoft said it has agreed to acquire for an undisclosed amount. Genee, which launched just two years ago, lets users schedule meetings with individuals or groups by speaking to it.
The addition of Genee builds on Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s plan to bring “conversations-as-a-service” to the mainstream as the next UI and framework for how applications are used and connected — a strategy he outlined in late March at the company’s annual Build developers conference. Enabling that is the Microsoft Bot Framework and the Cortana Intelligence Suite. Genee is a meeting and scheduling service that connects with all major e-mail and calendaring apps including Outlook, Gmail, Apple’s iCloud and chatbot services offered by Facebook, Twitter and Skype, as well as all SMS-based services.
Cofounders Ben Cheung and Charles Lee, who will join Microsoft, launched Genee to “simplify the time-consuming task of scheduling (and rescheduling) meetings,” said Rajesh Jha, Microsoft’s corporate VP for Outlook and Office 365, in a blog post announcing the deal. “It’s especially useful for large groups and for when you don’t have access to someone’s calendar.”