Nuance Communications

(NUAN) - Get Report

breathed some life back into the deflated initial public offering market Thursday, nearly doubling in its first hour of trading.

The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company rose to 33 in early afternoon trading, from its IPO of $17 a share, as investors embraced this firm that develops voice recognition and voice verification software and products. (Nuance finished up 16 15/16, or 100%, at 33 15/16.)

The company and its lead underwriter,

Goldman Sachs

, raised $76.5 million on the sale of 4.5 million shares. Nuance priced above the initial range of $14 to $16, as institutions gambled that investors focused on the cascading

Nasdaq

stock market would not overlook the long-term prospects for Nuance.

In October, Nuance brought out its Voyager voice browser, which the company anticipates will be commercially available in the second half of 2000. The voice interface software platform enables people to gain Internet access from any telephone.

Nuance's revenues increased 66%, to $19.6 million, in 1999, compared with $11.8 million in 1998. But the company's net losses also increased, to $18.5 million in 1999, from $6.9 million in 1998.

A handful of companies, including

Motorola

(MOT)

,

Fidelity Investments

and

Periphonics

, a company owned by

Nortel Networks

(NT)

, accounted for two-thirds of 1999 revenues.

Nuance faces competition from such big companies as

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

,

ITT Industries

(IIN) - Get Report

and

Lucent Technologies

(LU)

, which are developing their own voice recognition software.

Internet networking giant

Cisco Systems

(CSCO) - Get Report

and several venture capital firms are the major financial backers of Nuance.