For Tony Fadell, the future of startups is connected and sustainable – TechCrunch

Tony Fadell can’t Stop thinking about what’s next at Tech.

Credited with creating iPods, making iPhones, and working as the founder of Nest, a smart-home company, tried to retire before starting his latest venture, Future shape, But found that retirement did not actually take place.

So the 51-year-old designer, engineer and investor, along with a core group of collaborators, has spent the last three years looking at the future shape of technology with public and undisclosed investments. Fadell’s wager monitors personal obsession (he is an investor in Watch-Obsessed, the website for Hodinki) and what he sees as the next waves in technological innovation.

“We call ourselves patrons with money,” Fadel said of his latest effort. The idea, he said, was to “help all these companies that are working really hard.”

Fadell and his crew have identified some very difficult things that he sees as large investment areas. They include the electrification of everything; Digital connection of everything; Rise of biomenofuring; And elimination of waste.

According to the firm’s spokesperson, the theme works with nothing but the company’s more than 200 companies.

One of the areas where Fadell has been most public about his commitments is around the notion of programmable electrification of everything. There, Fadell has made some big bets with companies such as Rohini, which makes microlight-emitting diodes; Turntide, which makes digital motors; Menlo Micro, which is making microeletronic miniaturized switches; And Phononic, Which makes a solid state chipset for cooling.

Each of these technologies takes mechanical technology, which, with the exception of lightbulbs, has not seen much in the way of digital progress for decades and makes those technologies programmable.

Fadell argues that the shape of the future is in a unique position to thank these technologies for commercialization thanks to their history with Apple and the construction industry since its days. Google .

“We span these gaps from atoms to electrons (software) and we try to fit those systems together,” Fadell said.

This thesis applies to the development of technologies that will benefit from increased connectivity and digitization of almost everything.

“4G / 5G connectivity through all these regions of the world is going to expand … [So] We can install inexpensive sensors that collect information on smart phones and integrate it with software and cloud services … this gives us the data it allows for [new industry] Happen.”

The proliferation of low-cost sensor batteries and power will create opportunities for data collection that can be built in a vast array of new markets, from farming to construction, and to deliver superior services across industries that already own data Those are heavy – like finance and insurance, Fadell said.

Image Credit: Getty Images / Roast-9D

This is one of the reasons why the company invested in it Understory Weather, What Fadell called a next-generation insurance company inspired by climate change, starting with smart weather centers and data.

Other companies in the Future Shape portfolio represent Fadell’s belief in biomenofuring and the elimination of waste. An early investor in Impossible foods, Fadell believes that the types of synthetic biological processes that can lead to the replacement of meat with alternative proteins, leather replacement to replace the currently used chemicals and expanding the development of new, bioplastics Can.

That’s why Future Shape has invested in MycoWorks, $ 40 million financing joins celebrity and institutional backers The company closed in November.

“Biomanufacturing is happening, and it is happening at a staggering rate because we are embracing the powerful thing on the planet – life,” Fadell said. “You want to take the market to where it needs to go. And everyone follows – exactly what is impossible. “

Finally, Fadell sees a huge opportunity to revive the supply chain associated with waste streams and opportunities in building circular economies. This applies to restaurant industry companies – such as Sweetgreen – and to novel bioplastics such as packaging and products.

“Another thing we are looking at is waste – how we reduce waste and how we recycle waste. We go after problems and waste is a big problem.

That opportunity set comes from companies that are investigating economics and providing life cycle analysis on the company’s carbon waste streams and physical physical by-products. “Quarry the garbage, don’t let the earth down,” Fadell said of its ability to transform a multibillion-dollar extractive industry.

Although many companies in the portfolio are still in a very early stage, Fadell said that there are some exits in the Future Shape portfolio, though he expects many more to be on the way.

“We’re not for this change in money,” Fadell said. “If we do this, then money comes.” I am not in the job of explaining LP… we do it on the basis of faith. ”