Mergers and Acquisitions, Mergers and Acquisitions

Microsoft Buys Talko for Skype, Counters Cisco Spark

Talko Founder & Former Microsoft CTO Ray Ozzie
Talko Founder & Former Microsoft CTO Ray Ozzie

Microsoft has just acquired another voice and collaboration application company. This time its Talko, a mobile app maker launched by former Microsoft CTO and famed Lotus Notes creator Ray Ozzie.

Microsoft apparently acquired Talko to further bolster Skype and Skype for Business. The buyout arrives only a few weeks after Microsoft also debuted an Office 365 enhancement with Cloud PBX capabilities. The move may also counter upstart B2B collaboration technologies like Cisco Systems Spark.

What Talko Does

When it launched in September 2014, the Talko app "brought together messaging, calling, and conferencing -- delivering a better way for mobile teams to communicate and be productive. Thousands of businesses have used Talko daily to coordinate their work while on-the-go," the company claims.

Hmmm... That sounds a lot like Cisco Spark, which "helps modern teams work together. Sign in to create rooms with group messaging, content sharing, video calling, and desktop sharing," the networking giant asserts.

Admittedly, instead of battling each other perhaps both Cisco Systems and Microsoft are chasing Slack, the incredibly popular collaboration and communication platform. Already widely deployed across thousands of businesses, an enterprise version of Slack is expected to launch in early 2016, according to that company's pricing page.

Talko and Microsoft Skype for Business


Meanwhile, Microsoft continues to round out its collaboration and communication platforms. Classic offerings like SharePoint remain popular. And roughly 85 percent of Fortune 500 businesses are leveraging Yammer -- Microsoft's enterprise social network (thought that figure might be artificially inflated by enterprise Office 365 licenses).

But Skype for Business (formerly Microsoft Lync) coupled with Talko and Microsoft's new Cloud PBX are big-time bets both for the technology giant and its channel partners. The move also reinforces Microsoft's willingness to buy emerging apps that run on Apple iOS and Google Android.

Microsoft apparently will end the Talko service by March 2016, adding the Talko team (and, apparently capabilities) to the Skype and Skype for Business initiative. Talko founder and former Microsoft CTO Ray Ozzie won't join Microsoft as part of the deal. Microsoft previously acquired a different Ozzie startup -- Groove Networks -- in 20015. And Ozzie earlier created Lotus Notes -- the groupware platform that IBM acquired For $3.52 billion in 1995.

Talko and Microsoft Cloud PBX

Phil Sorgen

ChannelE2E is curious to see if or how Microsoft will integrate Talko capabilities with the new Cloud PBX platform -- which launched a few weeks ago as part of an Office 365 upgrade. Microsoft Channel Chief Phil Sorgen has already stated that Cloud PBX offers plenty of partner opportunities.

We've got a hunch that Sorgen will talk up the Talko buyout by the time some Skype f0r Business integrations arrive in March 2016...

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.