The 10 coolest companies founded by ex-Apple employees


Coolest Apple spin-offs

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.

Nest Labs

Sorry Tony Fadell. Better turn up the temperature if you want to win customers!

Photo: Nest



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

Loop Pulse

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.

7 tips for making your live demo not suck

Myles Weissleder Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Myles Weissleder of SF New Tech. Portrait: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

SAN FRANCISCO — Myles Weissleder has witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to startup demos.

The former VP of public affairs at presides over SF New Tech, a showcase for disruptive hopefuls that he’s run for more than eight years. Over 750 companies including SkyBox, Twilio, Prezi, Flipboard and Twitter have come to his networking mixer to demo before a live audience in a trendy SOMA club.

In San Francisco’s competitive startup environment, you can demo your game-changing idea (or Pet Rock app) every night of the week, but SF New Tech is one of the longest-running and largest showcases. Wannapreneurs face a few hundred audience members — many of them from influential companies like Apple or venture capital firms like CMEA capital — where the mingling is fueled by drinks and tacos.

During a recent demo night, Cult of Mac sat down with the indefatigable Weissleder, who is as at home on the stage with a mic as he is hobnobbing at the bar, to get his top tips on how not to bomb when you take the stage with your great idea, hoping to find cash and connect with influencers.

Facebook Paper For iPhone Is More Than Just A Beautiful Newsreader



Facebook today announced a new standalone iPhone app called Paper, and you’ll be pleased to hear it’s nothing like any of the Facebook apps that came before it. Paper’s main focus is to make all the news you’re interested in easy to access it, but it’s much more than just a newsreader; in fact, it does enough to replace the regular Facebook app for more users.

Microsoft Wants HTC To Make Smartphones That Run Both Android & Windows Phone



Microsoft is trying to persuade HTC to make new smartphones that run both Android and Windows Phone, and it’s willing to cut or eliminate its own license fee to make it happen. The software giant is hoping the move will encourage consumers to try out the Windows Phone platform and eventually make the switch to it — but could the scheme backfire?