This Norwegian Man Made Millions Selling Siri To Steve Jobs

This Norwegian Man Made Millions Selling Siri To Steve Jobs

Since the unveiling of its iPhone 4S back in October, Apple has received heaps of praise for one of its new features in particular: Siri. The digital assistant is by far the most impressive voice recognition service built into a mobile device, and it seems everyone has been blown away by it.

What many of you may not know, however, is that Siri is one of the few Apple products that wasn’t created by the team in Cupertino. Instead, Siri was created by Dag Kittlaus, a 34-year-old man from Norway, and it has made him a multimillionaire.

Kittlaus, a former Motorola executive, co-founded Siri along with buddies Adam Cheyer, Tom Gruber, and Norman Winarsky back in 2007. The company was formed at the Stanford Research Institute, with the help of a $25 million backing from Morgenthaler and Menlo Ventures.

Just a few years later, Kittlaus and company received a phone call from Steve Jobs. He wanted to purchase Siri, and reportedly offered the group $200 million, most of which went to Kittlaus. Kittlaus then joined Apple in Cupertino to develop his software for the iPhone.

Of course it was a great moment when Steve Jobs called and wanted to buy my company. It was surreal. When I heard that it was him, I knew we had made it big. In advance, we were pretty confident that the technology we had developed was so startling that we would get some kind of breakthrough. Steve was the first caller.

According to a profile by Norwegian publication E24!, Kittlaus departed Apple back in October so he could spend more time with his family in Chicago and pursue other projects, one of which is reportedly to write a novel. While he was with the company, Kittlaus learned that Apple isn’t all about making a profit, and that the drive behind the company “is the desire to create a fantastic product.”

In the profile, Kittlaus also spoke about the death of Steve Jobs, who passed away on October 5, aged just 56:

Well, my strongest reaction came when I realized how sick he was, that he had not long to live. There I realized the job, we were together every day. My reaction to that was a lot stronger than I was prepared, it put me out properly. He is the inventor in history that changed the most, dozens of industries around the world is turned upside down.

Siri in Norwegian mean “beautiful victorious counsellor,” but it is believed Kittlaus named his application after Siri Kalvig, a famous Norwegian meteorologist and businesswoman, with whom he worked at a telecommunications company in Norway.

[via 9to5Mac]

  • Shameer Mulji

    What happened to the remaining co-founders and original team of Siri? Are they still at Apple or have many of them left as well? Just curious.

  • SebastianOvrebo

    Norway!!! :D

  • CharliK

    From what I understand they were never at Apple. Very likely by their own choice. They sold their part of the company over and went on to do other things. But Kittlaus took the offer to help transition the software

    As for the TV comment I can’t help thinking that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Apple is really secretive and they would have put him on a contract to keep his mouth shut and if he really respected Steve he wouldn’t be leaking details, especially something as firm as a deadline. I think that someone randomly said something like “we could use this with the Apple TV. Probably take a couple of years to work it out.” and he is assuming that it was a firm plan to do just that. And it may not be TVs per se but Siri being able to work with the Apple Remote program via an iPhone/iPad to control the little black box etc

  • Devil

    I can see his multi million dollar goin…

  • robotcombat

    “but it is believed that Kittlaus names his application after Siri Kalvig, a famous Norwegian meteorologist and businesswoman”  
    You certain about that?  Right from this article itself, I noticed this:

    “The company was formed in Stanford Research Institute” Initials SRI. Coincidence?

  • norwegian teacher

    What source do you have for the statement: ‘Siri in Norwegian mean “beautiful victorious counsellor,”

  • Ole Kristian Dyskeland

    Great article, but….

    Siri is not named after Siri Kalvig!
    I’m from Norway myself and have read the article in E24, where he confirmed that It is not!

    “- Det er noen som tror det, men det er ikke sant” 
    “-There are some people who thinks so, but it is not true” 

  • Ole Kristian Dyskeland
  • Max_wallker

    Steve would have done well to spend  a bit of loose change on Opera whilst he was at it.

  • Ohsiri

    Siri says funny things at http://www.ohsiri.net

  • cryptoarbiter

    I asked Siri who made her and she said she was designed by apple in California, Apple have brainwashed her :O

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a staff writer based in the U.K. He has an interest in all things tech and also covers Android over at CultofAndroid.com. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell.

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