Microsoft is buying another company started by Ray Ozzie, but this time the experienced tech exec is not coming along.
Ozzie’s startup, Talko, offered a business-communication app that combined texting, photo-sharing, and voice calls into one place. It was launched publicly last fall, with about a half-dozen employees at its Boston headquarters and another five scattered between Seattle and San Francisco.
But the app found only a “niche” audience, Talko said in a blog post today, and has been acquired by Microsoft for an undisclosed price.
Microsoft will get the company’s employees, based in Boston, Seattle, and San Francisco, and plans to use some of its technology to help improve Skype, the Microsoft-owned video-calling service. But Talko itself will be shut down.
“The reality is that the broad-based success of communications apps tends to be binary: A small number of apps earn and achieve great viral growth, while most fall into some stable niche,” Talko said.
In an e-mail, Ozzie said he won’t be signing up for another tour at Microsoft. But he praised chief executive Satya Nadella: “I continue to be deeply impressed with Satya’s leadership, and the company’s ambitions and progress in mobile productivity. Communications innovation will clearly be key to those efforts.”
Ozzie previously worked at Microsoft after the company bought an early Boston-area startup, Groove Networks, in 2005. Ozzie eventually became Microsoft’s chief software architect, a job previously held by Bill Gates.
He left Microsoft in 2010, and began working in 2012 on the startup that would become Talko. Before Microsoft, he was perhaps best-known as the developer of the communication program Lotus Notes.