March 28th, 51 min

Tony Fadell: How to build the future

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Tony Fadell

Tony Fadell

Engineer, Designer, Author, Build Collective
About The Episode

For many of us, being the co-creator of two of the most transformative products of the early 21st century—the iPod and iPhone—would be enough for one career. But Tony Fadell was just getting started.

After his time at Apple, Tony went on to start Nest Labs, known for its smart home products like thermostats and fire alarms, which sold to Google for over 3 billion dollars. He’s authored more than 300 patents, and with his newest venture, the Build Collective, he’s investing time and money to help engineers and scientists build a greener world.

He’s also written a book about what he’s learned over the years called Build. In this interview, we chat with him about what some of his early failures taught him, why the best teams are multigenerational, and how to deal with the different types of—for lack of a better word—a*holes you might encounter in your career.


Tony Fadell started his 30+ year Silicon Valley career at General Magic, the most influential startup nobody has ever heard of. Then he went on to make the iPod and iPhone, start Nest and create the Nest Learning Thermostat. Throughout his career Tony has authored more than 300 patents. He now leads the investment and advisory firm Build Collective, which invests its money and time to help engineers and scientists build a greener world, in which every person enjoys a longer, richer life.

Meet Your Hosts

Aarron Walter
VP of Design Education

Aarron Walter is Director of Product on the COVID Response team at Resolve to Save Lives. Previously, he was VP of Design Education at InVision, and founded the UX practice at Mailchimp where he helped grow the product from a few thousand users to more than 10 million. He’s the author of a number of books, the latest of which is a second edition of Designing for Emotion. Aarron’s design guidance has helped the White House, the US Department of State, and dozens of major corporations, startups, and venture capital firms.

You can find Aarron on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Eli Woolery
Director of Design Education

Eli is the Director of Design Education at InVision. His design career spans both physical and digital products, and he has worked with companies ranging from startups (his own and others) to Fortune 500 companies.

In addition to his background in product and industrial design, he has been a professional photographer and filmmaker. He teaches the senior capstone class Implementation to undergraduate Product Designers at Stanford University. You can find Eli on Twitter and Medium.

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