Tellme Networks

Not to be confused with the TellMe speech recognition system found in Windows Phone.
Tellme Networks, Inc.
subsidiary of Microsoft
Industry Telecommunication
Founded 1999
Headquarters Mountain View, California
Key people
Mike McCue, Chief executive
Products Telephone services and applications
Number of employees
360 (2008)[1]

Tellme Networks, Inc. was an American company founded in 1999 by Mike McCue and Angus Davis,[2] which specialized in telephone-based applications. Its headquarters were based in Mountain View, California.

Tellme Networks was acquired by Microsoft on March 14, 2007, for approximately $800 million; the deal closed in late April 2007.[3] In 2006, Tellme's phone network processed more than 2 billion unique calls.[4]

Tellme established an information number, 1-800-555-TELL, which provided time-of-day announcements, weather forecasts, brief news and sports summaries, business searches, stock market quotations, driving directions, and similar amenities. Operating by voice prompts and speech-recognition software, it was set up in 2000 as a loss-leader service to demonstrate the Tellme functionality to U.S. consumers. The voice of the Tellme service is Darby Bailey.[5]

Tellme was sold to Microsoft for approximately $800 million and now a subsidiary of Microsoft.

In early 2012, Microsoft divested itself of Tellme Networks' interactive voice response (IVR) service and the majority of its employees to [24]7 Inc.[6] The service was moved to a non-toll-free number at 408-752-8052.


In April 1999, the Tellme founding team, consisting of Mike McCue, Angus Davis, Rod Brathwaite, Jim Fanning, Kyle Sims, Brad Porter, Michael Plitkins, Hadi Partovi, John Giannandrea, Andrew Volkmann, Anthony Accardi, Patrick McCormick, Danny Howard, Vicki Penrose, and Emil Michael assembled in Mountain View, California.

In 2000, Tellme announced a service that delivered content to telephonesa concept called voice portals. Early competitors included TelSurf Networks, BeVocal, Hey Anita, and was founded in 1999 and acquired in September 2000 by America Online for its competing service, AOLbyPhone. At least ten additional competitors appeared in 2000 in various attempts to mimic the funding success of Tellme.[7]

Tellme was featured in the 2001 documentary Wild at Start.[8] and was referenced in a 2000 Malcolm Gladwell article in The New Yorker about recruiting.[9]

In 2008 the company debuted a feature especially for Christmas Eve; callers can dial 800-555-TELL and hear recorded messages from Santa Claus. If called on Christmas Eve, Santa will say what state he is traveling over, and what exactly he is doing. In 2009 they added a service that allows you to receive messages a week early from Santa explaining what he is doing to prepare for Christmas.

At the onset of service, as a way to gain more users, they offered a free long distance call feature. Callers would call Tellme and were given 1 free minute of long distance call time to their desired phone number. That service was later stopped while other services persisted.


Voice portal customers build Internet-powered, voice-enabled applications on the Tellme Network using Tellme Studio. Tellme Studio is a web-based VoiceXML development tool. The Tellme platform is based on open standards like VoiceXML, CCXML, and VoIP. The Tellme Voice Portal which includes directory assistance can be accessed by calling (408) 752-8052.


Some of the services running on Tellme's network include directory assistance (4-1-1) for AT&T and Verizon (landline), AT&T's Voice Dial (*08), customer service for Merrill Lynch, E*TRADE Financial, and American Airlines, and e-commerce services for Fandango.[10]

See also


  1. Liedtke, Michael (March 1, 2008). "Tellme's Tale As Microsoft Subsidiary". Associated Press via Wired News. Retrieved 2008-03-01.
  2. "Tellme's Naughty Schoolboy", Business Week, March 13, 2006.
  3. "Microsoft Purchase of Tellme Adds Voice To Web Initiative", The Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2007, retrieved 2009-06-01
  4. "Tellme and Cingular Plan Broader Directory Service", The New York Times, October 9, 2006.
  5. Darby Bailey (official website).
  6. "Microsoft offloads some speech-focused assets, employees to 24/7" (World Wide Web log), ZD net, February 7, 2012.
  7. "As Silicon Valley Reboots, the Geeks Take Charge", The New York Times, October 26, 2003.
  8. "Dept. of "Oops" – After four years, heeere's "Wild at Start," a documentary celebrating visionary new-economy entrepreneurs!", Salon, July 25, 2001.
  9. Gladwell, Malcolm (May 29, 2000), "The New-Boy Network", The New Yorker.
  10. Press Release, Tellme, August 21, 2006.
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