Microsoft buys communication startup Talko, will shutter service in 2016

The Ray Ozzie-helmed firm will enhance Skype, without its founder in tow

Building a popular messaging app is a tough business, and Talko is getting out of it. The collaboration and voice chat app company announced Monday that it has sold to Microsoft, which will be rolling its technology and team members into Skype.

In a post to the company's blog, the Talko team said that success in the messaging app space for consumers is binary -- some companies are able to launch a wildly popular product that takes off with wide adoption, while others drift into obscurity. Talko was on the latter path, so the company opted to get out of the business and work with Microsoft.

"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," the company said. "We're in this to have great impact, so it's time for a change."

Talko's technology will be put to use improving Microsoft's Skype and Skype for Business communication products, but the service itself will shut down by March 2016. (The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.) Before then, users will be able to download the contents of their past conversations, including voice, text and photos, as "simple files."

This is the second time that Microsoft has acquired a startup helmed by Ray Ozzie, whose last company, Groove Networks, it scooped up in 2005. Like Talko, it specialized in productivity tools that were then integrated into SharePoint and OneDrive. At that time, Ozzie was brought on board as one of Microsoft's chief technical officers, and quickly got promoted to Chief Software Architect, before leaving the company in 2010 to create Talko. Ozzie won't be re-joining Microsoft with this acquisition, however.

Buying Talko is Microsoft's second acquisition in the past 4 days, and another key acquisition for the productivity tools side of Microsoft's business. Talko joins a laundry list of other purchases over the past year, including the acquisitions of companies behind Wunderlist and Sunrise Calendar.

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Blair Hanley Frank

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