Microsoft is acquiring UK mobile keyboard app startup SwiftKey for a reported $250 million in a bid to strengthen its position in the mobile productivity sector.
SwiftKey is a free app for Android and iOS that promises more efficient typing via swiping gestures and learning your typing habits. It was founded back in 2008 by a couple of UK entrepreneurs, has raised over $20 million in VC money and is now installed on over 300 million devices.
“In this cloud-first, mobile-first world, SwiftKey’s technology aligns with our vision for more personal computing experiences that anticipate our needs versus responding to our commands, and directly supports our ambition to reinvent productivity by leveraging the intelligent cloud,” said Microsoft EVP of Technology and Research in a blog post.
“This acquisition is a great example of Microsoft’s commitment to bringing its software and services to all platforms. We’ll continue to develop SwiftKey’s market-leading keyboard apps for Android and iOS as well as explore scenarios for the integration of the core technology across the breadth of our product and services portfolio.”
Alex Macpherson, head of Octopus Ventures, one of the VCs that had invested in SwiftKey, is also pleased. “Today is a huge day for SwiftKey and we are thrilled for Ben and Jon the co-founders of this fantastic business,” he said. “It was clear to us when we met them back in 2010, that they had found an opportunity to build an incredibly exciting and global business that could scale quickly. The news that SwiftKey is to join the Microsoft family is a tremendous achievement for this innovative young business and further highlights the UK as a thriving global hub for entrepreneurship.”
With the gradual but inevitable demise of Windows Phone Microsoft eventually realised it’s best chance of making money out of the smartphone era was via software and services, rather than licensing an OS, as it is accustomed to doing. Swiftkey may eventually be incorporated into the Office family of products, or Cortana, or both, and we expect Microsoft to continue to add to its mobile productivity portfolio over in the coming months.