Microsoft Announces Tellme Acquisition

Here's the press release confirming the acquisition we reported on yesterday. From the release: Tellme is a leader in voice services for the phone, including its popular mobile search services on 1-800-555-TELL. Founded in 1999, the privately held company answers millions of calls every day for information such as finding local businesses, driving directions, sports scores, stock quotes, weather, news, movie show times and more. Businesses use Tellme’s voice services and platform to provide customers with voice-access services ranging from banking to package tracking. These services are b [...]

Report: Microsoft To Buy Tellme

As previously rumored, Microsoft is apparently in talks to buy Tellme Networks, the voice services and automated directory assistance (DA) provider. TellMe has an enterprise business, which would be of value to Microsoft. But such an acquisition would immediately make Microsoft a potentially major player in the emerging ad-supported directory assistance (DA) market and speech-enabled mobile search. As I've written before the free DA model is "mobile local search for the rest of us." Tellme's voice assets and speech interface more broadly could be used by Microsoft to help the company diffe [...]

Citysearch Buys InsiderPages

VentureBeat is reporting that Citysearch/IAC is the mystery buyer of InsiderPages. A purchase price was not disclosed. The formal announcement will apparently come later today or early tomorrow [now confirmed, see below]. I would guess the purchase price wasn’t more than 2x what the investors put in (TechCrunch guesses $13 million), given that the company was being shopped from a position of weakness. IAC as a buyer is both appropriate and fascinating for many reasons. I've posted more on this on my personal blog. Postscript: It's now confirmed, press release below: WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif [...]

SideStep Raises $15 Million

SideStep today announced that it raised $15 million in its Series C round, led by Norwest Venture Partners. Other VCs involved include Trident Capital, Leader Ventures and Saints Capital. To date, SideStep has raised aproximately $32 million. Competitor Kayak has raised $30 million. Norwest is an investor in Turn (the new CPA ad network), which is led by Jim Barnett. Jim Barnett sits on the board of SideStep. Small world. Also, Norwest is an investor in Yatra, an India based travel search engine, so they know something about the space. So what does the profitable travel search company [...]

Search Engine ChaCha Announces $6 Million Round

Led by Amazon's Jeff Bezos' Bezos Expeditions, social search engine ChaCha announced that it had secured a $6 million funding round. ChaCha launched in Q3 last year and employs a network of live guides (college students, stay at home parents, retirees) to help answer user queries in real time in addition to providing traditional algorithmic search. Here's my most recent write up on the engine from November. Given its network of distributed guides, ChaCha is one of the more interesting recent search launches. While it started out quite slowly, the service and functionality have been getting mu [...]

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