iPod Inventor Tony Fadell: “I Had The Idea For The iPod In A Nightmare Where Steve Jobs Was Chasing Me With An Axe”

An artist’s interpretation of Tony’s recurring nightmare

Innovative ideas can come from anywhere: Paul McCartney thought of the world-famous tune Yesterday in a dream, Mark Zuckerberg got the idea for Facebook from the original founders of the company, and Tony Fadell tells Business Outsider that he got the idea for the world-changing iPod in a horrifying nightmare where Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs was chasing after him with a bloodied tactical axe.

Before becoming known as the “father of the iPod”, Tony said he was rejected by over 100 venture capital firms before getting the vision for the first generation of the iPod.

“So I was just walking in a forest or something right? I can’t really remember the beginning of the dream, you know how dreams are,” Fadell said, reflecting on the night terror that changed his life and skyrocketed him into Silicon Valley stardom.

“Then I was… I turned around and saw Steve, who I had just started working for at Apple few months prior. I said ‘hey Steve!’ or something like that. Then he just pulls out this horrifying axe that’s glowing red. He doesn’t say a single word to me, then he starts sprinting towards me. Then, right before I started running away, I realized that you could use haptic feedback and a clicking sound and scroll through a list of songs or albums on a device, and that’s when I realized that I had something big. And then I think Steve caught up to me and then I woke up,” said Tony as he stared blankly at the floor.

Tony is now principal at global technology advisory and investment firm Future Shape.

Helping the companies in Future Shape’s portfolio navigate the financial challenges brought on by the coronavirus reminded him of his own early career setbacks, and often cause him to replay the same horror story that continues to haunt him to this day. 

“These days I always wonder, was it all worth it? Everyone got rich and famous, but, I just can’t get Steve out of my head. I’ve tried and tried and tried but I guess I have to try and live like this,” Fadell said while he wiped tears from his eyes.

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