Deals

Nuance pays $80M in cash for Tweddle Connect to build ‘safer, smarter connected cars’

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Connected cars may be the future of how we drive, and voice technology company Nuance is shelling out $80 million for Tweddle Connect to enhance its connected car platform.

Tweddle Connect makes an in-car infotainment system that pulls in content from sites like Pandora, Bing, iHeart Radio, and OpenTable and and delivers it “safely and securely” into your car. More than 70 million cars and 50 million portable navigation systems sport Nuance’s speech technologies, and acquiring Tweddle Connect will support growth of its automotive business.

Nuance is a large public tech company that was founded in 1992. The company has made eight acquisitions in the past two years to expand its offerings into different verticals and enhance its own imaging and voice recognition technologies. Its automotive voice platform applies natural language processing and speech-enabled technology to reduce driver distraction. It includes communications, navigation, entertainment, and connected car solutions.

Tweddle Connect creates a link between cloud-based services (like Pandora and OpenTable) and the car’s electronic system, and this includes an integration layer for smartphones. It will merge with Nuance’s Dragon Drive, a connected voice platform that drivers use to speak the request and have the car respond without taking their hands of the wheel. In a statement issued this morning, Nuance said that combination of these two systems will bridge the gap between voice, on-board applications, and connected third-party applications and content.

Connected cars are a hot topic right now as tech companies and automotive companies alike funnel resources into transforming the driver experience. Intel Capital announced last year that it formed a $100 million Connected Car Fund to invest in the future of car technology and companies ranging from AT&T and Ford are getting in on the action as well. Nuance cited a report from ABI Research that said the number of U.S. connected car subscriptions will grow to 53 million in 2017, and a JD Power study found that more than two-thirds of respondents want natural language voice activation and wireless connectivity in their cars.

As cars get reimagined for the digital era, consumers are increasingly demanding technology that keeps them informed, entertained, productive, and safe while on the road. Car makers are incorporating technology Nuance’s to stay competitive. The purchase price was approximately $80 million in cash, and the transaction should close in the third quarter of this year. Parent company Tweddle Group will continue business as usual, and Nuance will acquire Tweddle Connect’s existing revenue streams. Nuance estimates the acquisition will generate $25 million in revenue in 2014.

Nuance is based in Burlington, Mass.

Photo Credit: meghannash/Flickr

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