ScanSoft and Nuance Communications combined in 2005 to pursue a rising prospect in speech recognition, years before Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. The new company created robust speech-processing software and flourished swiftly for almost a decade, with prices rising by an average of 27% per year. Then, around 2014, it abruptly ceased growing. In 2019, revenues were nearly the same as they were in 2013. Large computer corporations that were previously collaborators had become competitors, and Nuance faced tremendous headwinds. Nuance’s tale isn’t unique. Startups are confronted with unprecedented challenges across all major sectors and technology fields. New businesses are continually sprouting up to take advantage of new prospects. These businesses can now take advantage of a massive influx of venture funding. However, the startup economy is not without its problems. Innovative firms are growing at a far slower rate than similar companies in the past.
Surprisingly, technology—specifically, private information technology in the hands of big businesses that dominate their industries—is a significant factor. This is because we’re used to thinking of technology as causing disruption, with smaller, newer organizations introducing advances that allow them to thrive and eventually displace larger, less productive ones. However, these technologies are now stifling industrial turnover, steadily declining for the past two decades. The economy of the United States will suffer due to this loss of dynamism. The expansion of business owners has slowed as a result. Experts have linked Slower growth to significantly slowed productivity growth, which affects the entire economy, even down to individual incomes. Nuance was founded in 1994 as a spinoff from Stanford Research Institute (SRI), which had previously created speech-recognition technology for the US government. ScanSoft was a subsidiary of Xerox. Speech recognition was limited by computer processing capacity before the two joined in 2005. Although the systems recognized only limited vocabulary, they were still helpful in specific commercial applications like telephone customer service centers and medical record transcription.
Things had changed by the late 1990s. Nuance created a significant breakthrough as computers became more powerful: “large vocabulary continuous speech recognition.” You may now say anything about any subject and have it precisely transcribed in real-time by technology. This technology was employed by Nuance in an app called Dragon Dictation, which Apple promoted at its 2009 Worldwide Developers Conference when it announced the iPhone 3GS. Samsung and all other phone manufacturers sought the device after Apple approved it. Google, Amazon, and Microsoft did as well. Nuance multiplied, thanks to these significant companies and millions of individual users who purchased the iPhone app, which quickly became the most popular business productivity software in the iTunes store. In addition, Apple released Siri in 2011, based on Nuance technology. In 2013, Nuance’s revenue climbed to $1.7 billion. This expansion, however, was brief. Nuance wasn’t the first company to recognize that voice was on the verge of becoming a dominant mode of human-computer connection. Voice recognition was no longer simply for dictating text; it could also be used for purchasing, information retrieval, music, video entertainment selection, appliance control, and much more. Moreover, it was quick, hands-free, and a far more natural way for humans to communicate than using a keyboard and mouse.