Acquisition of Telera to Strengthen Genesys VoiceXML Plan

To help deliver web content by telephone, Genesys Laboratories Inc., a subsidiary of Alcatel, Wednesday unveiled an agreement to acquire Telera, a maker of extensible markup language voice solutions. The acquisition, expected to close in July 2002, will be made for $136 million in Alcatel stock. The acquisition was made in support of Alcatel's and Genesys' plan to bring converged voice and Web solutions to market more quickly to help businesses support real-time communications with customers, outsourcing vendors and other important partners, according to company executives. "This is a good thing for the companies involved and their users," Bernard Elliot, a research director at Stamford, Conn.-based researcher Gartner Inc. says. "It's a play for the next generation call center. The acquisition gives Genesys a way to move forward faster and improve upon the existing IVR platform." Under the terms of the deal, Telera will become a part of Alcatel's Genesys contact center software unit and will focus initially on the market for voice self-service solutions, which is expected to grow to $600 million by 2005. Telera, founded in 1998, has more than 36 enterprise customers who have developed self-service contact centers. The Campbell, Calif.-based company, which has 75 workers, also has more than $30 million in cash that will be used as development funds after the merger. Telera's Voice Web software platform uses VoiceXML and other open standards to enable service providers and enterprises to develop advanced voice applications that transform the telephone into a tool to access Web-based information The acquisition allows Genesys to offer an integrated solution for both voice self-service and live customer assistance. The first product from the combined company is due out in July, says Ad Nederlof, chief executive of Genesys. "We are eager to begin combining the resources of the two companies to accelerate the adoption of converged voice and web solutions in the market," says Prem Uppaluru, chief executive and co-founder of Telera. Uppaluru says there are three drivers that make this the right time for the next generation solutions. He cites convergence of data and voice on the same network, the mobility of end users who are demanding access to information anytime from anywhere, and the improvement of underlying technology such as speech recognition, speaker verification and signaling. The larger plan is that Alcatel will use Telera's technology in the enterprise market to help its plan for the "borderless enterprise." Alcatel executives say the French company has been working for more than three years to leverage the convergence of voice and data networks to help businesses securely and effectively open their internal networks to the external world.
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