Making stuff is hard. Making stuff that counts is rare. Making beautiful products, with a user experience that’s intuitive for all, while rocking the world of business almost never happens. I know how hard this is, as combining design, engineering and entrepreneurship has been a common calling I’ve shared with Tony Fadell since our 20s. “A passionate, brilliant engineer” is what I remember people saying about Tony in Silicon Valley in the ’90s, but that is just scraping the surface.
Tony did all this, at least twice: with our music as the father of the iPod, which he led at Apple; and with the Nest Labs thermostat, the company he founded four years ago and recently sold to Google. And did I mention his central role in the development of the iPhone?
Some people spend their entire lives hoping for one breakthrough that counts, one that truly makes a difference in the human experience. At 45, Tony has two of these under his belt, or three — who’s counting? I can’t wait to live through what’s next.
The race to make wearable tech the biggest thing since the smartphone is on. Apple, Google and Samsung are all working on making our gadgets far more personal by packing in sensors that measure everything from heart rate to hydration. Yet with his company’s line of UP wristband computers, Hosain Rahman is out ahead of them all.
Since Rahman co-founded Jawbone in 1999, he’s managed to stay one step ahead of the prevailing vogue. He turned the Bluetooth headset into an objet d’art exhibited in venues from San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art to the Pompidou Center in Paris. He perfected the small, portable wireless speaker before there were millions of them out there. And with the fitness- and sleep-tracking UP band, he’s turned Jawbone into one of the biggest companies in wearables. It doesn’t hurt that the slinky bands look cool; they’ve been spotted on the wrists of celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Demi Moore.
Most founders in Silicon Valley pay lip service to design. Rahman is one of few who has proved how powerful it really is.