BEIRUT: Tony Fadell has played a central role in contemporary consumer technology – as a key creator of the iPod; an audio change maker; as part of the team that built the iPhone, an enduringly popular smartphone, and more recently as cofounder of Nest Labs, a pioneer of the Internet of Things revolution.
Fadell later sold Nest Labs to Google for $3.2 billion. He is an inventor, innovator, entrepreneur and angel investor.
Oh, and by the way, he is all of 47 years old.
Over the course of his more than two decades in the consumer electronics industry, Fadell has authored more than 300 patents. In 2012, he was the recipient of the Alva Award, honoring him as "the next great serial inventor." In 2013, Fadell was cited as one of Business Insider's Top 75 Designers in Technology, Fast Company's 100 Most Creative People, and CNBC's Top 50 Disruptors.
He cofounded his first company while still an undergraduate computer engineering student at the University of Michigan.
Appearing for the first time on stage in Lebanon, at the Banque du Liban's Accelerate 2016 forum, which played host to 20,000 visitors last week, Tony Fadell told Annahar that amid all his remarkable accomplishments one of the things he is most proud of, is his Lebanese heritage.
He added, "Something that I consider an extra plus of being here at the conference, is the possibilityy of inspiring local young entrepreneurs which brings me a unique pleasure."
During his opening speech, Fadell said that he strongly encourages junior enterprisers to learn from others, "learn from their mistakes, their accomplishments and how they were able to pave their way to success."
Fadell recounted part of his own experience, when he moved from Detroit to California "with only $400 in my pocket," and that this tested his dedication to being a businessperson, noting for Annahar that "it is endurance of tough moments that will ultimately confront every entrepreneur. And this may prove later on to be one of the most educational moments on one's personal journey."
He added, "from creating the initial idea to beginning a start-up, up until going big, there will be tough things that will test your metal."
Fadell noted "one of the things I find in the Lebanese - including the young businesspeople I have met here --- is their endurance and their ability to face hard-hitting circumstances and to keep on going."
Sporting his trademark shaved head and a lithe construction, a result no doubt of serious work outs, Fadell waved his arms around the room to proudly indicate all the Lebanese who are at the conference.
Fadell then points to his father, and youngish looking gentleman who boast a full head of grey hair, and said that along with his brother, they are planning to visit the family's native Zahle - known as the city of "Wine and Poets" -- to have lunch at one the various popular eateries that sit along the Berdawni River.
"I will throw away my vegetarian side for this meal, and this meal alone," said Fadell with a smile. His grin was in reference to the famous Levantine custom of mezza, endless servings of appetizers, always accompanied with healthy portions of hummus and tabbouleh and main dishes of grilled meats drizzled with olive oil.
In Zahle, along the thin Berdawni, a succulent aroma of smoke wafts invitingly from the many grills featured at each restaurant. Enough to temp even the most ardent vegetarian, if just for lunch. But no matter what the cuisine, the most important part of all Lebanese meals is the friendship and family that surrounds the table.
This is Fadell's second time only in Lebanon.
But here is a man, who may also have found a lost homeland.
Since his first visit several years ago, he tells Annahar there has been a "huge transformation and growth in the technological ecosystem, which should serve as an inspiration to the young businessmen and women of Lebanon."
During Fadell's speech at the forum, he praised BDL governor Riad Salameh, saying "His strong support for innovation and startups in Lebanon, have earned him the ranking of one of the best central bank governors in the world."
He also noted that the stars are starting to align perfectly for Lebanon's tech ecosystem, which now has access to the four most important resources needed for any entrepreneurial endeavor: "access to markets, access to talent, access to technology, and access to funding."
Of the Accelerator conference, Fadell tells Annahar that the industriousness on display "speaks for itself, the energy that I see, everyone can see."
"The entrepreneurs in this country have been through many challenges - it is an enduring testament to what I like to call 'the Lebanese spirit'
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