TONY FADELL ON NEST, GENERAL MAGIC & HIS GRANDFATHER’S INFLUENCE


Tony Fadell is an investor, entrepreneur and engineer. He worked at General Magic, Apple (iPod and iPhone), and  co-founded Nest Labs (maker of Nest Learning Thermostat) that Google acquired for $3.2 billion in 2014. He is currently an investor at Future Shape and lives in France.

We caught up with Fadell during the Silicon Valley premier of General Magic, a documentary about the most famous startup that you have probably never heard of. In this wide-ranging conversation we spoke to Fadell about his move to France, his grandfather’s influence in stoking his curiosity to learn how things work and his work at General Magic and how and why he co-founded Nest.

In 1991 General Magic was spun-off from Apple and co-founde by Marc Porat, Andy Hertzfeld and Bill Atkinson. Hertzfeld and Atkinson were well-known engineers, who were part of the original Macintosh team at Apple Computer.  When Fadell heard about General Magic’s vision to create a personal intelligent communicator for a Post-PC world he knew this is where he wanted to work.Fadell’s dream was to work with Hertzfeld and Atkinson and the fact that he did not have a job offer from the start up did not faze him. Through sheer persistence he finally managed to land a job at General Magic and worked there for a couple of years. 

While General Magic’s product did not take off, the product they created left an indelible impact on the technology product landscape in Silicon Valley. General Magic’s device was the precursor to the Phone and iPad devices. After leaving General Magic Fadell went on to work at Apple on their iPod and iPhone devices. 

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