Pullstring, a voice app design and publishing startup, has been acquired by Apple, according to Axios’ Ina Friedt and Dan Primack.
Back in 2011, the San Francisco startup was founded by former Pixar executives to create voice experience design tools for toy products. Notably, their technology has been used to power interactive voice apps for various toys, such as Thomas the Tank Engine toys and talking Barbie dolls.
In 2016, Pullstring broadened its portfolio to creating development tools for IoT products such as Amazon Echo and Google Assistant.
Given its developer-friendly ecosystem, Pullstring has allowed Google and Amazon to greatly bolster their virtual assistant’s skill libraries with storytelling, quizzes, and other games, while Apple and it’s complex developer platform, SiriKit, lagged behind.
With this recent acquisition, Pullstring’s tools are expected to make it easier for developers to write and publish voice apps for Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri. Furthermore, the move is seen as a direct attempt by Apple to combat the growing adoption of app development surrounding Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Google Assistant.
PitchBook last valued Pullstring at $160 million following its Series D funding in 2016. Full details on the deal have yet to be released.
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