Inventor Philippe Kahn on Audacity, Talent, and Luck

An email interview with the serial entrepreneur behind the technology inside the Jawbone Up fitness-tracking wristband.

Lewis Schiff,


In 1983, Philippe Kahn emigrated from France to the United States with just $2,000, and a software program he co-created called Turbo Pascal. The company he built around that program, Borland International, sold for $75 million in 2009.

As a Silicon Valley pioneer, he’s been known for developing cutting-edge products such as one the first camera phones and, more recently, the technology inside Jawbone’s “Jawbone Up” fitness tracking wristband. Today, he’s founder and CEO of Fullpower Technologies.

Inc. Business Owners Council’s Lewis Schiff recently interviewed Kahn by email:

You are known as one of the swashbuckling entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley. In my book, Business Brilliant, I wrote about one of your early business adventures launching Borland. When you arrived from France with no money to market Turbo Pascal, you relied on a high-stakes ruse to fool the leading computer magazine, Byte, into extending you credit in order to pay for advertising. What other bold business tactics have you used?

Another story, and perhaps a more important event as it put me in contact with the key technology influencers of the time, is my first press conference. It was at the Las Vegas Comdex show a few months [after I convinced Byte magazine to run my advertisements on credit]. I asked the–now famous–casino mogul Sheldon Adelson for credit for a small booth and a press conference. He said, “if you can’t afford to pay me upfront, perhaps you should ask McDonald’s.” That wasn’t meant seriously, but I thought about it and I set up my first press conference in Las Vegas at McDonald’s! Ten journalists came and among them, Jerry Pournelle, who wrote my technology up and got me started with orders pooring in. Jerry became a sort of father figure. And I was star-struck. I loved his book, The Moth in God’s Eye.

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Fullpower® Receives Key Patents Covering MotionX Technologies For Wearable Non-Invasive Medical Devices

SAN FRANCISCO, CA–(Marketwire – Jan 7, 2013) – Fullpower® today announced it has received a collection of patents covering key breakthrough technologies for wearable non-invasive medical devices.”The next social paradigm-shift is non-invasive wearable wireless medical devices and applications,” said Philippe Kahn founder and CEO of Fullpower. “It’s all about invention, innovation and IP. The combination of synergistic inventions and innovation are game-changers.”

An Example related to outbreaks, epidemics and the optimal use of pharmaceutical drugs such as Tamiflu®

The patent for invention number 8,187,182 outlines a method and apparatus using sensor fusion for accurate activity identification, and the patent for invention number 7,705,723 outlines a method and apparatus to provide outbreak notifications based on historical location data. Leveraged together, a device containing multiple sensors to collect patient-state information, geospatial data, and other sensor data may be used to calculate information about the active state of the user that is more accurate than would be possible using standalone sensors. This data may in turn be used to issue accurate and effective outbreak notifications.

For example, If an individual is identified as a point source of disease, the patented system can backtrack all potential contact points for the affected individual and notify anyone who was potentially in close contact. Furthermore, the data collected can be used to identify areas that may be affected, paths of intersection, quarantine, distributions of medicine such as Tamiflu® (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY), along with a map of the outbreak. A system such as this enables the real-time understanding, management, and containment of outbreaks of disease, including potential pandemics.

The Fullpower Patent Portfolio

These patents are part of an intellectual property portfolio from Fullpower-MotionX that includes more than 36 issued patents with dozens of patents pending. Broad coverage for the MotionX Technology Platform introduces a new and necessary approach for sleep, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and epidemics. These advanced methodologies can enhance the potential of pharmaceutical drugs such as Ambien® (SNY) or Zocor® (MRK), for example. Fullpower’s continued innovation translates into constantly broadening and deepening of the IP related to the MotionX patent portfolio for non-invasive wearable wireless devices.

About Fullpower and the MotionX Technology Platform

Founded in 2003 by a world-class team, Fullpower’s MotionX technology platform leads the wearable technology revolution. The MotionX Technology Platform is a suite of tightly coupled and integrated firmware, software and communication components that are the building blocks for new breakthrough non-invasive, wearable wireless devices. With a broad IP portfolio including several dozen patents, the MotionX Technology Platform powers leading solutions from companies such as Nike, Jawbone, Apple, Comcast, Pioneer, JVC, and others. Fullpower showcases its MotionX Technology Platform via its iPhone and iPad applications, which lead the iTunes store in the Medical, Health & Fitness and Navigation categories.


MotionX Launches 2.0 Version of Popular MotionX-Sleep App

SANTA CRUZ, CA–(Marketwire – Apr 19, 2012) – Fullpower®-MotionX® today announced its 2.0 update of the popular MotionX-Sleep App for iPhone and iPod touch, adding five new enhancements based on direct user feedback. MotionX-Sleep is a next-generation health and fitness app that tracks your sleep and daily activity directly from your iPhone or iPod touch.

Introducing MotionX-Sleep for iPhone and iPod touch: Sleep Better, Wake Up Refreshed and Be More Active

SANTA CRUZ, CA— March 8, 2012 — Fullpower®-MotionX® is proud to introduce the MotionX-Sleep App for iPhone and iPod touch, available now on the App Store. MotionX-Sleep is the next-generation health and fitness app that tracks your sleep and daily activity directly from your iPhone or iPod touch.

Transpac 2011

Click to View the Official Pegasus Results and Race Log

Q and A time With Pegasus’s Philippe Kahn,

Published on 07-09-2011 06:18 AM

Earlier this year we got a glimpse of the past playing with the future when Philippe Kahn’s freshly remodified Alan Andrew’s 70′ came out of the shed from Southern California’s Dencho Marineand dubbed the “Waikiki 70”. The Pegasus program has had a virtual armada of boats which have competed in the Transpac or Pacific Cup Races, ranging from the 77′ “Super Sled”, a turboed 70′, a TP 52 and most recently an Open 50 which Philippe doublehanded across the Pacific.

We were able to catch Philippe working at his nav station just after the start of the low raters in the Point Fermin to Diamond Head Race and get some keener insights into this latest edition of the Pegasus Fleet.

What spurned the idea of the Waikiki 70?

PK- “Surfing to Honolulu. Sailing down the waves as opposed to reaching fast across them.”

There are 7 “Sleds” in division 3 of this years Transpac (If you include Cheetah) ranging in rating from 82.221 to 93.873,
What would be the ideal target range for the Waikiki-70’s?

PK- I’m really not sure. I’m used to sailing dinghies, skiffs and one-design keel boats. We focused on getting the boat close to the original specs while using contemporary deck and interior layouts.

How much in terms of modifications were involved in bringing Pegasus Motion X into the “Box” ? (Reduction in Mast, boom, scoops or overhangs, keel mods etc?)

PK- Chopped the mast, spinnaker pole, got rid of the bow sprit, shortened the keel. Everything to get close to an original sled.

Are there some established tolerences and guidelines existing, and if so what would they be?
PK- The Southern California fleet has been using ORR with success. That works.

Of the top of your head how many “70”ish sleds were originally produced, and later modified or turboed, any educated estimates of how many boats are still out there which could be demodified or deturboed and fit into the fleet? (Including Great Lakes and Seattle Area Boats)

PK- There are more than 20 I believe.

Any other owners potentially getting onboard so to speak?

PK We hear that they are. The great racing on this Transpac will help.

Rumour has it Pegasus has self leveling (rotating port to starboard) nav station, can you give us details on that?

PK sorry to disappoint, the boat is very simple and practical. No high tech moving parts.

Any other upgrades during the modification process that makes her unique?

PK We focused on making her a beautiful classic. The classical surfing sled.

Are plans/hopes for the fleet to compete in additional down hill events, ie Spinnaker Cup, Coastal Cup, Mexican Races?

PK- All good possibilities.

You’ll be racing with 11 on this boat after several years in Transpac and Pac Cup just double handed, how do you compare the difference, and are the long distance double handed events a thing of the past?

PK I like change. We established two good double handed Transpacific records. We thought that it would be fun to surf to Honolulu with 10 friends. I love double- handed racing. There will be more

Thanks Philippe, good luck and happy surfing!