Microsoft today announced the acquisition of Genee, an artificial-intelligence-powered scheduling service. The company is planning to integrate the intelligence technology into Office 365 and shut down the Genee service on September 1, 2016. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Genee was founded in 2014 to simplify the scheduling and rescheduling of meetings. Booking a meeting with the service is a three-step process: Email the attendees you want to include, carbon copy “email@example.com,” and describe your meeting (tell Genee your meeting type and the general timing). The service takes care of the rest using natural language processing and optimized decision-making algorithms. While it depends on email, Genee also works via an iOS app, SMS, Facebook Messenger, Twitter DMs, and Skype chat.
Microsoft describes it as “especially useful for large groups and for when you don’t have access to someone’s calendar” and offers an example of Genee in action:
Say you want to meet a potential customer, Diana, for coffee. Simply send an email to Diana and copy Genee, like you would a personal assistant. Genee understands that you want to “Find a time to meet with Diana for coffee next week” and will streamline the process by emailing her directly with appropriate options that work with your calendar and preferences. Genee will even send out the meeting invite on your behalf — freeing up your time. A coffee meeting scheduled in a snap!
Cofounders Ben Cheung and Charles Lee are joining Microsoft “to build amazing next-generation intelligent experiences.” The duo describe Microsoft as “the leader in personal and enterprise productivity, A.I., and virtual assistant technologies” and look forward to joining “a team that is committed to delivering cutting-edge language and intelligence services.”
The decision to shut Genee down is not surprising; many acquisitions result in the original service no longer being available. It’s surprising that Microsoft is giving users less than two weeks’ notice though — in just 10 days, Genee will no longer send useful reminders or agendas. The only silver lining is that existing calendar entries created by Genee will remain.
Genee raised $1.45 million in August 2015 from investors Aspiration Growth, Katrina Garnett, Streamlined Ventures, and UJ Ventures.