In a bold acquisition that could solidify Microsoft’s growing influence in the health care industry, the tech giant agreed to buy artificial intelligence developer Nuance in a deal worth $16 billion.
Nuance is a leader in healthcare artificial intelligence. Paired with the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, introduced in 2020, Microsoft could make a big push into the health care software business.
The deal represents the second-largest acquisition by Microsoft, behind LinkedIn.
“AI is technology’s most important priority, and healthcare is its most urgent application,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a statement. “Together, with our partner ecosystem, we will put advanced AI solutions into the hands of professionals everywhere to drive better decision-making and create more meaningful connections, as we accelerate growth of Microsoft Cloud in Healthcare and Nuance.”
Mark Benjamin will remain CEO of Nuance, the companies announced.
Microsoft has been building a foothold in AI technology. In September, it acquired an exclusive license for GPT-3, a language model created by OpenAI, that generates human-like text. Elon Musk — who co-founded OpenAI in 2015 — criticized the move, saying, “This does seem like the opposite of open. OpenAI is essentially captured by Microsoft.”
Nuance’s technology has been used by Walgreens to help schedule Covid-19 vaccine appointments and by the Industrial Bank of Korea, which used it “to create the banking industry’s first biometrics solution for video calls.”
— CNN Business’ Rob McLean contributed to this report.