Apple’s latest acquisition could give Siri a crucial boost

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Apple
The company that made Barbie a conversationalist has been bought by Apple.
Photo: ToyTalk

Apple’s latest acquisition could give Siri a better chance at competing against Amazon’s popular voice-power assistant, Alexa.

Pullstring, a San Francisco-based startup that specializes in helping developers design, prototype and deploy voice apps has reportedly been purchased by Apple. The company’s platform helps create voice apps for Alexa and Google Assistant, and will likely help Apple make more tools for Siri.

Voice has been one area that Apple has struggled to properly compete in. Even though Apple debuted Siri before Alexa and Google Assistant, the competition has leapfrogged Siri. Apple is reportedly doing a total overhaul of Siri. Pullstring could be a big part of that.

Why Pullstring matters

Founded by former Pixar execs in 2011, Pullstring first struck out to make voice apps for toys. Hello Barbie and talking Thomas the Tank Engine were some of its first big successes. Samsung and Activision have also used the platform to create conversational experiences.

Axios reports the deal to acquire Pullstring is worth around $30 million, plus around $10 million in potential earn-outs for management. Pullstring raised around $44 million from VC firms during its existence. It was recently valued at $160 million, but perhaps the company saw a better future with Apple than continue to go solo.

Now that Pullstring is under Apple’s umbrella it could make a platform for developers to create original voice apps for Siri. Apple has not confirmed the acquisition. We reached out to the company for comment but haven’t heard back.