As big names in Silicon Valley go, Tony Fadell is right up there among the biggest. Credited with creating the iPod for Apple, working on the iPhone, and founding smart home pioneer Nest, Fadell has a resume that’s hard to beat.
But here’s the thing: He no longer lives in Silicon Valley. He sold Nest to Google in 2014 for $3.2 billion and then left in the summer of 2016 amid the corporate reshuffling that had created the Alphabet structure. Fadell eventually relocated to Paris, where has been living full-time ever since.
He’s now primarily focused on Future Shape, an investment and advising vehicle that began as a kind of side project eight years ago. Before, during, and after Nest, Fadell had been personally investing in hundreds of startups around the world. Future Shape has now backed about 250 startups and has an estimated worth of between $500 million and $1 billion. But it’s not a VC fund. All the money comes from Fadell.
On December 19, I was invited to interview Fadell on stage in the auditorium at Paris’ Station F startup campus. Station F, which opened this past summer, was conceived and funded by French telecom entrepreneur Xavier Niel. Future Shape has an office there. The event was part of an official soirée for La French Tech, the government program that supports startups. The party was also a kind of send-off for the 365 French technology companies that will be attending CES next week.
The following is a transcript of our conversation, edited for length and clarity.
VentureBeat: What was the origin of Future Shape?
Tony Fadell: I’ve been investing now for over eight…