Apple Said To Purchase AI Voice Startup PullString

  • General
  • February 16, 2019
  • 68
  • 5 minutes read
Apple employees work on its store – located on the ground floor of the Taipei World Financial Center – in Taiwan.

image : Apple

Apple has reportedly acquired PullString, an AI voice startup led by former Pixar CTO Oren Jacob, that enables developers create and publish applications for digital assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Axios reports the acquisition, stating of its upfront purchase price to be around $30 million, plus about $10 million in potential earn-outs for management.

Founded in 2011, PullString has raised some $45 million in funding, according to Crunchbase data. Investors in the company include IronPort co-founder and Postmates board member Scott Banister, Greylock Partners, True Ventures, CRV, First Round Capital and Khosla Ventures. According to PitchBook, it was valued at north of $160 million – post-money – from its most recent fundraise.

PullString CEO Oren Jacob

image : Thomas Hawk on Flickr

Voice, an industry seen as a very promising one, is dominated by Amazon and Google, with Apple lagging behind despite the release of its own smart speaker, the HomePod, which has just 6% global market share – as of Q2 2018 – according to Strategy Analytics, compared to Amazon’s 30% and Google’s 27%. Apple recently made the HomePod available in China, a market dominated by Alibaba’s Tmall Genie and Baidu’s smart speakers.

The company is likely looking to strategies to increase market share in this segment, estimated to be worth $21.5 billion by 2024. Also in the connected device market, Amazon recently acquired Eero, the popular maker of home mesh WiFi systems, with more than 50% market share according to The NPD Group.

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