Voicebox Technologies, which provides natural-language understanding technology for Samsung devices including the discontinued Galaxy Note 7, is cutting a significant portion of its workforce, citing “a combination of unforeseen circumstances.”
The cuts could impact as much as half of Voicebox’s workforce, according to sources familiar with the move. VoiceBox, based in Bellevue, Wash., said as recently as November that it employed more than 300 people.
Voicebox said in a statement Thursday evening that it restructured its staff, but the company didn’t give a specific cause or confirm how many people are impacted. Here’s the statement:
“Due to a combination of unforeseen circumstances, we have had to make the difficult decision to restructure our staff. This comes despite a year that includes the successful delivery of new products and capabilities to our largest customers while at the same time making significant investments to improve our technology, especially in the area of Platform, NLU, Embedded ASR, Cloud ASR and Developer Experience. The restructuring will focus our resources on the Connected Car market and enables us to grow and thrive organically.”
Voicebox works for a variety of major companies — including Toyota, AT&T, TomTom, and Pioneer — in areas including automatic speech recognition, natural language understanding and text-to-speech technologies. These technologies are a hot trend right now in consumer electronics, as device makers look to add voice capabilities to their devices.
Voicebox announced a strategic partnership with Samsung in February 2016 to use its natural language understanding technology in Samsung’s S voice services, which were a key feature of the Galaxy Note 7. The popular Samsung smartphone/tablet was recalled and later discontinued after repeated reports of the devices burning up.
The company announced in November that it had leased a new office in Bellevue, totaling nearly 67,400 square feet, to accommodate what it described at the time as its growing staff.