Microsoft has signed an agreement to acquire Genee, an artificial-intelligence-powered scheduling service. Co-founders Ben Cheung and Charles Lee, who plan to join Microsoft, started Genee in 2014 to simplify the time-consuming task of scheduling (and rescheduling) meetings. The Founders explain that Genee is especially useful for large groups and for when users don’t have access to someone’s calendar.
Genee uses natural language processing and optimized decision-making algorithms so that interacting with a virtual assistant is just like interacting with a human one.
“With today’s news, I’m excited to welcome the Genee team to Microsoft. As we continue to build new Office 365 productivity capabilities and services our customers value, I’m confident the Genee team will help us further our ambition to bring intelligence into every digital experience,” commented Rajesh Jha, Corporate Vice President, Outlook and Office 365 in a company post.
An example of how Genee works:
Let’s look at a common scheduling problem. A user wants to meet a potential customer, Diana, for coffee. Send an email to Diana and copy Genee, like one would mark a personal assistant. Genee understands that the user wants 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 the user’s calendar and preferences. Genee will even send out the meeting invite on the user’s behalf – freeing up time.
“It’s been two and a half years since we let Genee out of the bottle. In our drive to deliver large productivity gains through intelligent scheduling coordination and optimization, we often found ourselves on the forefront of technology involving natural language processing, artificial intelligence (AI), and chat bots. We were extremely fortunate to find many who believed in the vision and supported us with their resources, talent, time, and advice along the way, which made Genee possible,” said Ben Cheung and Charles Lee, Genee Co-Founders, in a joint statement.
The Genee service will shut down on September 1, 2016. “The Genee team will take the valuable experiences and lessons to Microsoft, where we’ll continue to build amazing next generation intelligent experiences,” stated the duo, adding, “We consider Microsoft to be the leader in personal and enterprise productivity, AI, and virtual assistant technologies, so we look forward to bringing our passion and expertise to a team that is committed to delivering cutting-edge language and intelligence services.”