The co-founder of Siri, Dag Kittlaus, was a keynote speaker at a monthly start-up pitch event in Chicago yesterday. It was there he revealed information on how Steve Jobs went about his quest in acquiring Siri shortly after its launch. What’s interesting to note is Steve Jobs did not like the name ‘Siri’–but Apple stuck with it since they couldn’t come up with anything else.
Also, Kittlaus recounts the story of how Jobs contacted them three weeks after they launched in 2010 (the app was only available in the U.S. App Store at the time). It was soon after Apple acquired Siri for $200 million dollars. It sounds very similar to the stories we’ve read about in the Steve Jobs biography:
Three weeks after we launched I got a call in the office from someone at Apple that said, “Scott Forstall wants to talk to you and he’s the head software guy.”
And I said sure…
Only it wasn’t Scott that called it was Steve. And Steve never announces where he’s gonna be and what he’s gonna do because there’s too much commotion around it. So he said, “Dag, this is Steve Jobs.”
And he wanted me to come over to his house the next day, and I did, and I spent 3 hours with him in front of his fireplace having this surreal conversation about the future.
And, you know, he talked about why Apple was going to win, and we talked about how Siri was doing. And he was very excited about the fact that.. you know, he was very interested in this area in general but, you know, they’re patient, they don’t jump on anything until they feel they can go after something new and he felt that we cracked it. So that was his attraction.
I ended up very lucky, timing wise. I got to work with him for a year before he got real sick. And he’s pretty incredible. The stories are true. All of the stories.
How did Kittlaus come up with the name Siri? In Norwegian it translates to “beautiful woman who leads you to victory” noted Kittlaus. Also it was the name of a co-worker, plus he wanted to name his daughter Siri too–and the domain name was available. So there you have it. One more little tidbit behind the story of how Siri was acquired.