10 Interesting Startups From Ex-Apple Employees

steve jobs

Photo: Associated Press

For all of Apple’s success through the years, its employees have only produced a handful of interesting startups.It’s starting to change with some software engineers leaving to do their own app companies, but for the most part Apple’s employees don’t seem to have the same entrepreneurial spirit as Google.

Since IPOing, Google employees have gone on to launch ~49 startups, while Apple employees have done less than 30 notable startups according to a thread that popped up on Quora.

We don’t know for sure why this is the case, but we presume it has to do with Apple’s culture which is secretive, fractious, and centered on Steve Jobs’ brilliance. Google’s culture is more open and encourages each employee to work on their own projects.

At any rate, we’ve picked out 10 of the more interesting startups to come from ex-Apple employees through the years. Take a look and see if any patterns emerge.

Andy Rubin was once an Apple engineer and now he's trying to kill Apple

Andy Rubin, the man behind Google's Android software started at Apple in 1989. He was CEO of Danger, the company behind the Sidekick for a little while, but was ousted. That led to him doing Android an open source mobile software company. Google bought Android and it has become one of its most successful businesses.

Former Apple graphics engineer Loren Brichter is now in charge of Twitter's Apple applications

Loren Brichter left Apple after a year with the company to launch atebits, a software company focused on Macs and iPhones. He built the hugely popular 'Tweetie' app which Twitter eventually purchased. He's now in charge of making official Twitter apps for Apple products like iPad, Mac, and iPhone.

Flipboard is another popular iOS app that came from an Apple mind

Evan Doll was a senior iPhone software engineer at Apple until July 2009, when he jumped ship. He landed at Flipboard, which takes Twitter, Facebook, RSS, and other sources to create a social magazine for the iPad. Apple liked Doll's work so much that it named Flipboard App of the Year for 2010.

The guys behind Hotmail met at Apple

Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith were Apple employees in the eighties. They left the company and eventually created Hotmail which was later purchased by Microsoft. Smith and Bhatia have worked on various startups since, but none have been as successful.

Reid Hoffman started at Apple befiore moving onto PayPal, and then LinkedIn

Reid Hoffman's distinguished career in tech started at Apple as a product manager. He's since been a founder at two pretty successful tech startups -- PayPal and LinkedIn.

Agnilux is a chip company started by people that were at Apple for a brief moment

In 2008 Apple bought P.A. Semi, a chip startup. Shortly after that acquisition, the employes of the company left Apple to start Agnilux, a stealth startup working on servers. Last year Google bought Agnilux.

Dave Morin is best known for his time at Facebook, but he actually started at Apple

Dave Morin, the man behind Path, the mobile photo sharing application, started his career at Apple working as a manager in the higher education department.

Posterous founder Sachin Agarwal spent six years at Apple

Sachin Agarwal was an engineer at Apple where he learned a bunch of management lessons. He got the startup bug and left to do Posterous, the simple blogging platform.

Inkling is another startup that focuses on the iPad

Matt MacInnis left Apple to try and build his own company that would use Apple's platform. He launched Inkling, an e-textbook service.

Steve Jobs was once an ex-Apple employee ... and he did NeXT and Pixar

Of all the Apple employees that went on to start their own companies, or work at startups, it seems like Steve Jobs has had the most success. He helped nurture Pixar into life, and he started NeXT. Pixar is a runaway success, NeXT was sort of a flop, but Apple bought it and brought Jobs back to the company, so it worked out pretty well.

BONUS: Jon Rubinstein tried to out-Apple Apple at Palm, but that didn't work out

Palm wasn't technically a startup when Jon Rubinstein joined, but it certainly acted like one. It abandoned its old product and tried to create something new from scratch. It didn't work out, and Palm was sold to HP.

How do these compare to ex-Googler's projects?

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