Salesforce Buys AI Calendar App Maker Tempo
The AI-based contextual calendar tempo, which has become a first class replacement for the native iOS calendar was acquired today by Salesforce. Tempo was started as an SRI incubation by Raj Singh, and launched into the market two years ago. The opening paragraph of the e-mail announcement read:
We started Tempo to build an assistant for the mobile business professional. The calendar was the perfect interface, since it’s the beat of our professional lives. With Tempo, we created an amazing smart calendar, using artificial intelligence to enable the next generation of mobile productivity. We brought context to your events and automated many of your tasks, just like a real-world assistant, saving our users millions of minutes.
The app will be shutdown on June 30, 2015.
This is all goodness for Singh and company. An acquisition is the best way to exit a start-up. I’m always sad though, and I think it is a big negative with these kinds of acquisitions, that there is a near immediate shut-down of the service. Companies acquired by Microsoft, Google and Yahoo often go missing soon after an acquisition. Some re-emerge, some morph as their technology innards are reapplied to new, sometimes bigger problems, and some just go away, never to be heard from again. With Microsoft moving into this space with the Sunrise acquisition back in February, it makes little sense to me that Salesforce would so quickly shutdown a service that people are already using without offering an enhanced replacement. I know it costs money to keep a service running that you are planning to perhaps turn into something else, but I think there is still significant learning to be had with an installed base, as well as important market capital to be had by not alienating them — advocates are always better than jilted consumers.
It appears this decision is already made. The app has been removed from the Apple app store. If you paid for it you can report a problem to Apple and ask for a refund by saying “Tempo is being discontinued on June 30, 2015.” I hope future acquirers of technology keep their new bits in the market until they are ready to replace them with something else, hopefully, something better. If Salesforce just bought tempo for some backend capabilities or for its algorithms, it may prove a could buy for them, but it is a poor investment in the evolution of technology in the hands of the masses.
Tempo represented movement toward the fulfillment of the promise of intelligent technology that the likes of Microsoft, IBM and Oracle have been touting for years, but not really delivering in a useable form. Its a shame that when Salesforce gets a moment to accrue some positive future tech spin to its brand it truncates the awe (or ahh) with an ewh.