Tracing Tony Fadell's journey from Apple iPod to cryptocurrency wallet
Tony Fadell, the man behind the iconic Apple iPod, has announced his latest project - a wallet that can store cryptocurrency offline. Fadell was also part of the team that created the iPhone, another pathbreaker in consumer electronics. Let's take a look at the life and achievements of one of the leading innovators of the 21st century.
Fadell was born in Michigan
Anthony Michael Fadell aka Tony Fadell was born to a Lebanese-American father and a Polish-American mother in Michigan. As his father was an executive at Levi Strauss, the family moved frequently. According to Fadell, he went to 12 schools in 15 years. He graduated from Grosse Pointe High School in Grosse Pointe. In 1991, he graduated in Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan.
He worked as a caddie to buy an Apple II
Fadell discovered his love for computers at the age of 12. He even worked at a local golf course as a caddie to raise money to buy an Apple II microcomputer. He dreamt of working in the team that built the Macintosh computer. During his time at the University, Fadell was the CEO of a small software business called Constructive Instruments.
Fadell worked at General Magic, an Apple spinoff
Fadell's connection with Apple started soon after college. He joined General Magic, an Apple spinoff, in 1992. In his three years at the company, he worked with Sony, Philips, Matsushita, and Toshiba, exploring the potential of handheld devices. He developed several devices, including the Sony Magic Link and Motorola Envoy. However, despite overflowing talent and ideas, the company never managed to take off.
He was Philips Electronics' Chief Technology Officer
General Magic is known as the "most influential failure of Silicon Valley." From there, Fadell went to Philips in 1995. He was the Chief Technology Officer of the Mobile Computing Group, which he co-founded. He helped develop two portable computers, the Velo and Nino. However, Philips' reluctance to commit to the devices pushed Fadell out of the company.
Fadell joined Apple as an outside contractor
After Philips, Fadell was on the lookout for investments to create a portable digital music player. It was during this time that he was invited to advise Apple. Steve Jobs was at the helm of Apple again and was interested in making a portable music player himself. In 2001, he joined Apple as an outside contractor.
Fadell was made head of a new Special Projects group
During his time as an outside contractor, Fadell developed the concept and design of the iPod. He presented his design to Apple and was soon appointed as the head of a new Special Projects group. In 2004, he was appointed the vice president of the iPod division, and in 2008, he replaced Jon Rubinstein as the senior vice president in charge of the division.
He was also part of the iPhone team
With the iPod, Fadell gave Apple's flagging fortunes a revival. Therefore, when Jobs began a project to build a new phone, he didn't have to think twice to put Fadell on the team. The phone in question is the first iPhone. With the development of the iPhone, Fadell again became a part of shaping Apple's future.
Fadell founded Nest Labs in 2010
Many thought Fadell to become Jobs' successor, however, their relationship was as turbulent as productive. In 2008, he left Apple along with his wife, the company's vice president of human resources, Danielle Lambert. In 2010, he founded Nest Labs with a former Apple colleague Matt Rogers. His new venture was inspired by his failure to find an intelligent thermostat in the market.
Google acquired Nest for $3.2 billion
Nest Labs' thermostat hit the market in 2011. It was followed by Nest smoke detectors and security systems. In 2014, the company was acquired by Google for $3.2 billion. After the merger, he ran Nest as a division of Google for the first year. In 2016, he resigned from Nest and Google after the reorganization of the company.
Fadell's investment firm has over 200 start-ups in its portfolio
Google's acquisition of Nest made principal shareholder Fadell an overnight billionaire. He founded an investment firm, Future Shape, with his newfound wealth. The firm has funded over 200+ start-ups. In 2012, he was awarded the Alva Award, honoring him as "the next great serial inventor." The 53-year-old has over 300 patents to his name.
He has now designed a credit card-sized crypto wallet
Fadell's latest venture is an offline cryptocurrency wallet in partnership with French technology firm Ledger. The demand for offline crypto wallets has been on a rise after the vanishing of funds following crypto exchange FTX's collapse. Fadell has designed a credit card-sized device called Ledger Stax with a curved spine and electronic ink display. It will be available for $279 from early 2023.