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Apple acquires AI startup PullString

PullString (ToyTalk) joins Apple to improve Siri (Source: TechCrunch)
PullString (ToyTalk) joins Apple (Source: TechCrunch)
The latest corporate acquisition in the AI field for Apple is San Francisco-based PullString, a company that was founded in 2011 by former Pixar executives and has been working on "shaping the future of voice applications" ever since. The value of the deal is rumored to be around US$30 million.

According to multiple sources, Apple has just made a new corporate acquisition that is supposed to improve Siri's capabilities. The target of this deal is PullString, a startup based in San Francisco.

Founded in 2011 by former Pixar executives as ToyTalk, PullString is now developing voice experience design tools and the artificial intelligence parts needed to power those experiences, but is also involved in making toys such as talking Barbie and Thomas The Tank Engine in collaboration with Mattel.

Toy Talk changed its name to PullString in 2016 and started to focus on developer tools for visually mapping out conversations, as well as to publish various products to the Google and Amazon platforms. This happened after the company had to prove that its Hello Barbie toy was not a "child surveillance device" and that it had never been hacked.

For now, there is no official statement from Apple or PullString about the deal, but its value is rumored to stand around the US$30 million mark, next to around US$10 million "in potential earn-outs for management." This seems to be a small sum since the value of the company was estimated at US$160 million back in 2016, but after all, the aforementioned amounts are nothing more but rumors.


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Codrut Nistor, 2019-02-19 (Update: 2019-02-19)