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Nadella: 'It's Time for Us To Build the Next Big Thing'

While Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is willing to make acquisitions, he emphasized he's more focused on organic growth than making a big deal.

Taking questions at the Code Conference Tuesday, organized by the operators of the new Re/code site, Nadella was among several CEOs on the roster including Google's Sergey Brin, Intel's Brian Krzanich, Salesforce.com's Marc Benioff and Reed Hastings from Netflix. When asked what companies Nadella would like Microsoft to buy, he didn't tip his hand.

"I think we have to build something big," Nadella said. "If along the way we have to buy things, that's fine. But we have to build something big. We've built three big things, three and half if [we] add Xbox into it. It's time for us to build the next big thing." The focus is on building new platforms and software for productivity, he said.

In a preview of one major effort along those lines, Nadella, joined on stage by Corporate VP Gurdeep Pall, demonstrated the new Skype Translator, which aims to provide real-time language translation. Pall, who leads the Lync and Skype organization, showed how the Skype Translator can enable him to have a conversation with a colleague who only speaks German.

"It's brain-like in the sense of its capabilities," Nadella said. "It's going to make sure you can communicate to anybody without language barriers." In a blog post Tuesday, Pall said Skype Translator is the result of decades of work and joint development by the Skype and Microsoft Translator teams. The demonstration showed near-real-time voice translation from English to German and vice versa. Pall said it combines Skype and instant messaging technology with Microsoft Translator and neural network-based speech recognition.

"We've invested in speech recognition, automatic translation and machine learning technologies for more than a decade, and now they're emerging as important components in this more personal computing era," Pall noted, adding Microsoft will make Skype Translator available as a Windows 8 beta app by year's end. Microsoft also released this post on the research initiative.

Of course while the Skype Translator may represent years of development, Microsoft did acquire Skype for $8.5 billion. Presumably that's what Nadella meant when he said the company may have to buy things along the way. Fortunately, the company has plenty of cash if it needs to fill in where needed.

 

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/28/2014 at 2:10 PM


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