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Tony Fadell
Fadell in 2022
Anthony Michael Fadell

(1969-03-22) March 22, 1969 (age 55)
Alma materUniversity of Michigan (BS)
Known foriPod, iPhone, Nest Labs

Anthony Michael Fadell (born March 22, 1969) is an American engineer, designer, entrepreneur, and investor. He was senior vice president of the iPod division at Apple Inc. and founder and former CEO of Nest Labs.

Fadell joined Apple Inc. in 2001 and oversaw all iPod hardware, software, and accessories development. He is known as the "father of the iPod". As the co-creator of the iPhone, he also worked on the first three generations of the iPhone and oversaw all iPhone hardware, firmware, and accessories development from March 2006 to November 2008.

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.

Fadell has authored more than 300 patents and was named one of Time's "100 Most Influential People in the World" in 2014. In 2016 Time named the Nest Learning Thermostat, the iPod and the iPhone as three of the “50 Most Influential Gadgets of All Time".

Education and early life

Fadell was born March 22, 1969.[1] 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.[2]


Early career

After college, Fadell worked for Apple spinoff General Magic for three years, working with Sony, Philips, Matsushita, Toshiba and other consumer electronics firms in the "General Magic Alliance" to develop a line of personal handheld communicators. He started in 1992 as a diagnostics engineer and progressed to a systems architect.[3]

Philips Electronics

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 devices, notably the Philips Velo and Nino PDA.[3] Fadell went on to become a Vice President of Philips Strategy and Ventures where he was in charge of developing Philips's digital audio strategy consisting of technology direction for silicon and software, as well as its investment portfolio and potential business models.[4][5]

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.[citation needed]

Apple Inc.

Fadell is known as the "father of the iPod".[6] Fadell found support for his business idea of an MP3 player complemented by an online music store in Apple. In 2001 Fadell was hired by Apple as a contractor designing the iPod and planning Apple's audio product strategy.[5] His idea for a small hard disk-based music player and an online-store-for-music had caught Steve Jobs's 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.[5][7]

Due to the engineers and resources at Apple being constrained with the Mac line, Fadell hired engineers from his startup company, Fuse, and veteran engineers from General Magic and Philips to build the core iPod development team. He also hired an outside company to develop the software for the player.[8]

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.[9]

On November 3, 2008, The Wall Street Journal broke the story of Fadell's departure from Apple.[10]

Nest Labs, Inc.

Main article: Nest Labs

While building his energy-efficient home near Lake Tahoe in California, Fadell searched for a thermostat and was frustrated by the limited features, high cost and lack of energy efficiency gains provided by available devices. After he 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.[citation needed] Fadell developed the business plan for Nest while living in Paris in 2009.[11]

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.[12] Nest announced its first product, the Nest Learning Thermostat, in October 2011.[13] Nest was acquired by Google in January 2014 for $3.2B.[14] Fadell announced his resignation from Nest on June 3, 2016.[15]

Build Collective

As of 2017, Fadell has been running a venture fund originally called Future Shape, now called Build Collective.[16][17]


His book Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making was released May 3, 2022. Build has been named a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today best seller.[18][19][20]

Awards and recognition

In 2012, he was the recipient of the Alva Award, honoring him as "the next great serial inventor".[21] Vanity Fair also recognized him as a trailblazer on their 2012 Next Establishment list.[22] In 2013, Fadell was acknowledged as one of Business Insider's Top 75 Designers in Technology,[23] Fast Company's 100 Most Creative People,[24] and CNBC's Top 50 Disruptors.[25]

Overview of awards and recognitions:


  1. ^ Suen, Anastasia (April 2014). IPod and Electronics Visionary Tony Fadell. LernerClassroom. ISBN 9781467725804.
  2. ^ "Alumni Profile – Michigan Engineer". University of Michigan. Archived from the original on October 11, 2004.
  3. ^ a b Pamela Kruger; Katharine Mieszkowski (September 1998). "Stop the Fight". Fast Company.
  4. ^ "Profile". Strategic News Service. Archived from the original on March 13, 2006.
  5. ^ a b c John Markoff (April 25, 2004). "Oh, Yeah, He Also Sells Computers". New York Times.
  6. ^ Haslam, Oliver (January 13, 2020). "Father of iPod Tony Fadell says it was conceived, designed, and released inside a year". iMore.
  7. ^ "Alumni Profile". Michigan Engineer. University of Michigan. Archived from the original on October 11, 2004.
  8. ^ "The iPod: How Apple's legendary portable music player came to be". Macworld.
  9. ^ Apple Computer, Inc. (October 14, 2005). "Tim Cook Named COO of Apple". Archived from the original on November 16, 2010. Retrieved August 8, 2010.
  10. ^ Yukari Iwatani Kane (November 4, 2008). "Key Apple Executive to Depart". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on April 4, 2016.
  11. ^ Olson, Parmy. "Why iPod Creator Tony Fadell Is Bringing His Old Co-Workers To France". Forbes. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  12. ^ "NY Times, Ex-Apple Leaders Push the Humble Thermostat Into the Digital Age". The New York Times. October 25, 2011. Retrieved March 14, 2013.
  13. ^ Kelion, Leo (November 29, 2012). "Tony Fadell: From iPod father to thermostat start-up". BBC News.
  14. ^ Winkler, Rolfe (January 13, 2014). "Google to Buy Nest Labs for $3.2 Billion". Wall Street Journal.
  15. ^ Metz, Rachel. "Nest's CEO is out of the picture, but that won't solve the company's real problem". MIT Technology Review.
  16. ^ "Build Collective Investor Profile: Portfolio & Exits | PitchBook".
  17. ^ Divecha, Devina (February 13, 2024). "A Legacy Of Disruption: Tony Fadell, Principal, Build Collective". Entrepreneur.
  18. ^ "Business Books - Best Sellers - Books - The New York Times". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 2, 2022.
  19. ^ "Bestselling Books Week Ended May 21". Wall Street Journal. May 26, 2022. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved June 2, 2022.
  20. ^ "Build - USA TODAY's". Retrieved June 2, 2022.
  21. ^ a b Glei, Jocelyn (June 6, 2012). "The 2012 Alva Award + Inventor Tony Fadell on the Creative Process". 99u. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
  22. ^ a b Chafkin, Matt; Kafka, Peter; Koblin, John; Koblin, John; Buckley, Cat; Deligter, Jack (September 7, 2012). "The Next Establishment". Vanity Fair. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
  23. ^ a b Dickey, Megan (May 7, 2013). "The Design 75: The Best Designers in Technology". Business Insider. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
  24. ^ a b "The 100 Most Creative People In Business". Fast Company. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
  25. ^ a b "CNBC Disruptor 50". CNBC. May 18, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
  26. ^ "Trailblazers: 11 people changing business". Fortune.
  27. ^ "The World's Top 25 Eco-Innovators". Fortune.
  28. ^ "TIME 100 Most Influential". Time. April 24, 2014. Archived from the original on December 18, 2014. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  29. ^ "CNN 10: Thinkers". CNN. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  30. ^ "Tony Fadell Biography and Interview". American Academy of Achievement.
  31. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  32. ^ "2014 Summit Highlights Photo: Awards Council member and "Star Wars" creator George Lucas presents Golden Plate to iPod mastermind Tony Fadell". American Academy of Achievement.
  33. ^ "The 50 Most Influential Gadgets of All Time". Time. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  34. ^ "GlobalItAwards".