Fuse

For a good chunk of time in 2000, I worked for Tony Fadell on a consulting basis as Senior Advisor, Strategic Research for Fuse Inc, Tony’s start-up effort to build “connected consumer electronics” devices, including MP3 players.  Tony had assembled a group of talented people, but I was older than the others, and joked that my title included “Senior,” not because it was a leadership position, but only to reflect my relatively advanced years. Regardless of the occasional gray hairs, I researched CE/home network software markets and strategic business development opportunities, and produced technology briefings and otherwise participated in Fuse business development efforts.

I had met Tony Fadell sometime in the early 1990s, when he was just getting out of school with a B.S. in Computer Engineering and already making waves. I had the pleasure of publishing his two-part article on MPEG in New Media News; it was a big editing effort, but any editor will tell you that he or she would always rather work with someone who really knows the subject, and all I can say is that I can still describe how discrete cosine transfer works, thanks to Tony.

As expected, Tony went on to cut a rather impressive swath through the computer industry, including a lead software/hardware engineer position with General Magic, then on to Philips Electronics, as CTO and Senior Director, New Business of the company’s start-up effort called Philips Mobile Computing Group, where the Velo, a handheld computing device based on the Windows CE platform, was developed; later he went on to serve as a Philips VP, for Strategy and Ventures.

Fuse was Tony’s first major play as entrepreneur, and a darn exciting one. MP3 format music was getting a lot of attention (the download industry was just forming), advanced television and digital cable were emerging, and, of course, the Web was in full swing, with broadband starting to make significant inroads.  Alas, also well into its development was the Dot-Com crash, and Fuse failed to find a second round of funding, and Fadell started exploring developing Fuse-like products at other companies.  At Apple, in 2001, he created the iPod.

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