Fadell holding the Nest Learning Thermostat
Anthony Michael Fadell
March 22, 1969
|Nationality||American - Lebanese|
|Alma mater||University of Michigan|
|Known for||iPod, Nest Labs|
Anthony Michael "Tony" Fadell (born March 22, 1969) is an American engineer, inventor, designer, entrepreneur, founder, coach, and active investor. He has a 30+ year history of founding companies and designing products. He joined Apple Inc. in 2001, and served as the Senior Vice President of the iPod division at Apple Inc. Tony oversaw all iPod hardware, software, and accessories development and iPhone hardware, firmware, and accessories development from March 2006 to November 2008. He is known as the "father of the iPod" for his work on the first 18 generations of Apple's iPod. Tony developed the idea and ecosystem plan for the iPod and iTunes, and he was hired by Steve Jobs to bring these ideas to market. He is also known as a co-inventor of the iPhone for his work on the first three generations of the iPhone. In May 2010, he co-founded Nest Labs, which announced its first product, the Nest Learning Thermostat, in October 2011. Nest was acquired by Google in January 2014 for $3.2B. He resigned from Google in June 2016. Fadell is the Principal at Future Shape, a global investment and advisory firm coaching 200+ startups working on foundational deep technology.
Education and early life
Fadell was born to a Lebanese father and a Polish mother. His father was a sales executive at Levi Strauss and Co. Fadell is an alumnus of Grosse Pointe South High School in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a BS in Computer Engineering in 1991. While still at University of Michigan, he was CEO of Constructive Instruments, which marketed MediaText, multimedia composition software for children.
After college, Fadell worked for Apple spinoff General Magic for three years, working with Sony, Philips, Matsushita, Toshiba and other consumer electronics firms to develop a line of personal handheld communicators. Starting in 1992 as a diagnostics engineer and progressing to a systems architect, he was responsible for the development of a number of technologies and devices, including the Sony Magic Link and Motorola Envoy, both of which were part of the Magic Cap platform. The General Magic film chronicling the journey of the people behind General Magic was released in select US theaters on May 10 and is now available on iTunes. The film made its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival and then had a Silicon Valley premiere.
In 1995, he was hired by Philips where he co-founded their Mobile Computing Group and served as the Chief Technology Officer, and Director of Engineering. He developed a number of Windows CE-based hand-held services, notably the Philips Velo and Nino PDA. Fadell went on to become a Vice President of Philips Strategy and Ventures where he was in charge of developing Philips' digital audio strategy consisting of technology direction for silicon and software, as well as its investment portfolio and potential business models.
In July 1999, Fadell started his own company called Fuse to develop the "Dell of the Consumer Electronics". One of the devices he had in mind was a small hard disk-based music player and an online-store-for-music. Fuse failed, however, to find a second round of funding, and Fadell started exploring developing the product at other companies. He first approached RealNetworks in 2000 but left after only six weeks.
Fadell started working for Apple in February 2001 as a contractor designing the iPod and planning Apple's audio product strategy. His idea for a small hard disk-based music player and an online-store-for-music had caught Steve Jobs attention. During that time, he created the concept and initial design of the iPod. He was then hired by Apple to assemble and run its iPod & Special Projects group in April 2001. He was tasked with overseeing the design and production of the iPod and iSight devices. He was promoted to vice president of iPod engineering in 2004 and on October 14, 2005, Apple announced that Fadell would replace the retiring Jon Rubinstein as Senior Vice President of the iPod Division on March 31, 2006. On November 3, 2008, The Wall Street Journal broke the story of Fadell's departure from Apple.
Nest Labs, Inc.
While building his energy-efficient home near Lake Tahoe in California, Fadell went looking for a thermostat and was frustrated by the limited features, high cost, and lack of energy efficiency gains provided by available devices. After Tony left Apple, he spent time around the world and realized people everywhere were having similar energy saving dilemmas as he was in his Tahoe house. Tony developed the business plan for Nest while living in Paris. Together with Matt Rogers, a former Apple colleague, he set out to redesign the traditional thermostat. In May 2010, Fadell and Rogers co-founded Nest Labs in Palo Alto, CA. Nest Labs, or Nest, is a company that designs and manufactures a sensor-driven, Wi-Fi-enabled, learning programmable thermostat, now in its third generation.
Fadell announced his resignation from Nest on June 3, 2016.
Fadell is Principal at Future Shape, a global advisory and investment firm coaching engineers and scientists working on foundational deep technology. He has been coaching founders and investing in their startups for the better part of the past decade. With 200+ startups in its portfolio, Future Shape seeks to bring technology out of the lab and into our lives. Fadell and his team at Future Shape coach startups to get the fundamentals right for lasting innovation.
Awards and recognition
In his 30-plus years of experience in the consumer electronics industry, Tony has authored more than 300 patents. In 2012, he was the recipient of the Alva Award, honoring him as "the next great serial inventor". Vanity Fair also recognized him as a trailblazer on their 2012 Next Establishment list. In 2013, Fadell was acknowledged as one of Business Insider's Top 75 Designers in Technology, Fast Company's 100 Most Creative People, and CNBC's Top 50 Disruptors. His 2015 TED Talk titled "The first secret of design is...noticing" has been viewed over two million times.
Overview of awards and recognitions:
- (2004) University of Michigan, College of Engineering's alumnus of the year award
- (2012) Alva Award, "The Next Great Serial Inventor" 
- (2012) (2013) (2014) Vanity Fair, Next Establishment list 
- (2013) Business Insider, Top 75 Designers in Technology
- (2013) Fast Company, 100 Most Creative People
- (2013) CNBC, Top 50 Disruptors
- (2013) Fortune, Trailblazers: 11 people changing business
- (2014) Fortune, The World's Top 25 Eco-Innovators
- (2014) TIME Magazine, 100 Most Influential People in the World
- (2014) CNN, CNN 10: Thinkers
- (2014) Golden Plate Award, American Academy of Achievement
- (2016), TIME named the Nest Learning Thermostat, the iPod and the iPhone as three of the “50 Most Influential Gadgets of All Time
- Thursday, Daniel Eran Dilger; May 11; 2017; PT, 12:32 pm. "iPod-Father Tony Fadell speaks at Computer History Museum's iPhone 360". AppleInsider. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
- Kelion, Leo (November 29, 2012). "Tony Fadell: From iPod father to thermostat start-up". BBC News.
- Winkler, Rolfe (January 13, 2014). "Google to Buy Nest Labs for $3.2 Billion". Wall Street Journal.
- Tony Fadell - Academy of Achievement
- "Alumni Profile – Michigan Engineer". University of Michigan. Archived from the original on October 11, 2004.
- Pamela Kruger; Katharine Mieszkowski (September 1998). "Stop the Fight". Fast Company.
- "Profile". Strategic News Service. Archived from the original on March 13, 2006.
- John Markoff (April 25, 2004). "Oh, Yeah, He Also Sells Computers". New York Times.
- "Alumni Profile". Michigan Engineer. University of Michigan. Archived from the original on October 11, 2004.
- Apple Computer, Inc. (October 14, 2005). "Tim Cook Named COO of Apple". Apple.com. Archived from the original on November 16, 2010. Retrieved August 8, 2010.
- "Key Apple Executive to Depart". The Wall Street Journal. November 4, 2008.
- Olson, Parmy. "Why iPod Creator Tony Fadell Is Bringing His Old Co-Workers To France". Forbes. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
- "NY Times, Ex-Apple Leaders Push the Humble Thermostat Into the Digital Age". The New York Times. October 25, 2011. Retrieved March 14, 2013.
- Glei, Jocelyn. "The 2012 Alva Award + Inventor Tony Fadell on the Creative Process". 99u. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
- Chafkin, Matt; Kafka, Peter; Koblin, John; Koblin, John; Buckley, Cat; Deligter, Jack (September 7, 2012). "The Next Establishment". Vanity Fair. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
- Dickey, Megan (May 7, 2013). "The Design 75: The Best Designers in Technology". Business Insider. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
- "The 100 Most Creative People In Business". Fast Company. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
- "CNBC Disruptor 50". CNBC. May 18, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
- "TIME 100 Most Influential". TIME. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
- "CNN 10: Thinkers". CNN. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
- "Tony Fadell Biography and Interview". www.achievement.org. American Academy of Achievement.
- "The 50 Most Influential Gadgets of All Time". Time. Retrieved June 3, 2019.