The apple does not fall from the tree when it comes to former employees of the Cupertino company. A bunch of smart, creative types formerly in Apple’s employ have branched out into smart, successful ventures. You might say they had Steve Jobs, who during his Apple hiatus founded NeXT and Pixar, as a role model.
Here are our favorites, from Nest to up-and-comers like a smart scale, 360 camera and a new, iBeacon-based biz.
Let us know what you think of our picks (and who you would add) in the comments.
The Stir Kinetic desk
You know how we wish Apple made *everything?* Well, we’d love to live in a world designed by Jony Ive, but honestly, our aching backs and craning necks would settle for just a lovely desk to place our MacBook Pros on. JP Labrosse, an early member of the iPod Engineering team, heard our cries and founded Stir Works. His sleek motorized desk is controlled by a touch screen for optimal height with a built-in dock for your fitness gadgets, and was meant to “reimagine the desk as something that is powerful, life-changing and even lovable.” We’d say he succeeded, but at $3,890.00 it’s a smidge out of our price range for a trial run.
SITU is an attractive Bluetooth food scale that talks to your iPad. Apple employee Michael Grothaus, who has battled his weight since adolescence, got the idea his lunch hour at Caffè Macs. The scale tells you the exact nutritional content of any food you place on it, providing a breakdown of fat, calories, etc. The sleek lines won't clutter up your minimalist countertop; preorders for the SITU after a successful Kickstarter campaign are coming right up.
The road to success has been paved with good intentions and studded with a few bumps for this social network app. Founded by Dave Morin, who got his start in Apple’s marketing department, this photo sharing and messaging app first launched with great fanfare on the iPhone before hitting controversy (and an $800,000 FTC fine) by hovering up users’s address books. Path is well-designed and the options to only import 150 contacts and silo the sharing from other social networks made it a winner. Also, the mothership still hasn’t succeeded in launching a decent social network, we think they should try again. With something similar to Path.
What say you to a tiny interactive panoramic video camera that looks like a slide carousel of yore and fits in the palm of your hand — yes, we want one, too. San Francisco-based CENTR is the brainchild of Paul Alioshin, who lead camera engineering at Apple and Bill Banta who worked in program management, operations and supply chain at the Cupertino company. It fell shy of the $900,000 it was stumping for on Kickstarter, but the project continues: “Fundraising is not a quick process, but we promise to update you when we have public information to share!”
While working at Apple, Matt MacInnis kept hearing about a new device in the works, shrouded in the usual CIA-level security. In 2009, before the iPad launched, he left with the idea to “revolutionize the textbook.” It turns out his water cooler smarts paid off: Inkling raised $48 million in venture capital funding then branched out into non-fiction, video plus interactive animations. Named one of the most innovative companies in 2014, Inkling crossed over to the other side launching Android versions of its wares in April 2014.
Sorry Tony Fadell. Better turn up the temperature if you want to win customers!
This glorious app was among the first to pair digital aggregation with slick magazine looks back in 2010, with former Apple iPhone engineer Evan Doll at the helm. 2014 has been a banner year for the San Francisco-based company: it partnered with CNN and swallowed up frenemy Zite. Not content to remain static on the shelf, the company, which already features content in 19 regional editions, recently launched a U.S. Latino Content Guide. Another thing it’s got going for it? It’s a great way to peruse the news from Cult of Mac.
This mobile app with an Apple-centric design lets you browse, share, and view photos and friends' photos from multiple sources. Austin Shoemaker, who did a seven-year tour of duty in Cupertino, including a stint as an engineer on the team that created iPhoto is its CTO. As our own Charlie Sorrel put it, “Cooliris’ gimmick is its endless wall of photos which you can almost throw around the screen, but recent versions have added so many sources that it might well become your iOS photobrowser of choice.”
The 10 coolest companies founded by ex-Apple employees
ClioneLabs was founded by Thomas Pun, who spent six years at Apple and also headed up an Apple TV killer, this company also rotates around the Applesphere. Its first product called Loop Pulse aims to harness the power of iBeacons for brick-and-mortar retailers, collecting and analyzing the behavior of punters in an easy-to-use dashboard. With offices in tech obsessed San Francisco and shopping obsessed Hong Kong, this one looks like a winner.
This members-only luxe resort company Inspirato offers you a place to crash in Grand Cayman, stylish residences overlooking the mountain in Vail and cliffside villas with private infinity pools in Costa Rica.
You can bet all the details will be impeccable: co-founder Brad Handler was once an Apple technical review specialist.
Those looking for a great alternative way to browse their photos on an iOS device might think about Cooliris, an app which has been around in various forms (I think I first saw it as a browser plugin) for some time. Cooliris’ gimmick is its endless wall of photos which you can almost throw around the screen, but recent versions have added so many sources that it might well become your iOS photobrowser of choice.
This week, the app has gotten support for Evernote images, plus more. And it still works great with Dropbox photos.
Imagine dining at a sumptuous, football-field-sized smorgasbord where all your friends and acquaintances have made and brought tantalizing morsels for you. And it’s all yours to sample, as you glide past table after stacked table. On ice skates.
Now replace the food with photos, and you’ll understand the draw of Cooliris (assuming you like looking at photos; and since the toaster is probably the last remaining electric gadget not equipped with either a camera or a way to display images, it’s a safe assumption).
And the iOS app is even cooler now that it’s just been seamlessly integrated with Dropbox.