|Born||March 16, 1952|
|Occupation||CEO of Fullpower Technologies, Inventor, Entrepreneur|
|Known for||Executive, inventor, serial entrepreneur|
Philippe Kahn (born March 16, 1952) is a mathematician, technology innovator, entrepreneur and founder of four technology companies: Fullpower Technologies, LightSurf Technologies, Starfish Software and Borland. Kahn is credited with creating the first camera phone, being a pioneer for wearable technology intellectual property, and is the author of dozens of technology patents covering Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) modeling, wearable, eyewear, smartphone, mobile, imaging, wireless, synchronization and medical technologies.
Early life and education
Kahn grew up in Paris, France. He was born to Jewish immigrants of modest means. His mother, Claire Monis, was an Auschwitz survivor, violinist and lieutenant in the French resistance. His father was a self-educated mechanical engineer with a socialist bent.
Kahn was educated in mathematics at the ETH Zurich, Switzerland (Swiss Federal Polytechnic Institute), on a full scholarship and University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, France. He received a masters in mathematics. He also received a masters in musicology composition and classical flute performance at the Zurich Music Conservatory in Switzerland. As a student, Kahn developed software for the MICRAL, which is credited by the Computer History Museum as the first ever microprocessor-based personal computer.
Kahn has founded four software companies: Fullpower Technologies, founded in 2005, LightSurf Technologies, founded in 1998 (acquired by Verisign in 2005), Starfish Software, founded in 1994 (acquired by Motorola in 1998, and subsequently Google in 2011), and Borland, founded in 1982 (acquired by Micro Focus in 2009).
Borland (1982–1995): compilers and tools
Kahn founded Borland in 1982, and was its CEO until 1995. At the time it was a competitor of Microsoft's, and produced programming language compilers and software development tools. Its first product, Turbo Pascal, sold for $49.95 at a time when programming tools cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Kahn was President, CEO, and Chairman of Borland and, without venture capital, took Borland from no revenues to a US$500 million run-rate. Kahn and the Borland board came to a disagreement on how to focus the company. In January 1995, Kahn was forced by the board to resign from his position as CEO, and he founded Starfish Software.
Starfish Software (1995–1998): wireless synchronization
Starfish Software was founded in 1995 by Philippe Kahn as a spin-off from the Simplify business unit from Borland and Kahn's severance from Borland. TrueSync was the first Over-The-Air (OTA) synchronization system. Starfish was successfully acquired by Motorola for US$325 million in 1998.
LightSurf Technologies (1998–2005): multimedia messaging
Fullpower Technologies (2005–present): wearable technology
Fullpower, founded in 2005, provides a patented ecosystem for wearable and Internet of Things sensor-fusion solutions supporting networks of sensors. The company's expertise is sleep monitoring technology using sensors and artificial intelligence.
The inspiration behind some of Fullpower's technology stems from Kahn's passion for sailing. During a demanding race requiring sailors to sleep less than an hour every 24-hour period, Kahn began experimenting with biosensors and three-axis linear accelerometers that could detect micromovements and provide meaningful recommendations. Kahn created prototype sleep trackers using biosensors that optimized 26-minute power naps to maximize sleep benefits and sail time.
First camera phone
In 1997, Kahn created the first camera phone solution sharing pictures instantly on public networks. The impetus for this invention was the birth of Kahn's daughter. Kahn had been working for almost a year on a web server-based infrastructure for pictures, that he called Picture Mail. At the hospital, while his wife was in labor, Kahn jury-rigged a connection between a mobile phone and a digital camera and sent off photos in real time to the picture messaging infrastructure he had running in his home. Kahn later said "I had always wanted to have this all working in time to share my daughter’s birth photo, but I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. It’s always the case that if it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would ever get done."
In 2016 Time Magazine included Kahn's first camera phone photo in their list of the 100 most influential photos of all time. In 2017, Subconscious Films created a short film recreating the day that Philippe instantly shared the first camera-phone photo of the birth of his daughter Sophie.
Kahn has filed for or has been granted over 230 patents internationally, in fields including artificial intelligence-modeling tools, Internet of Things, motion detection, wearable technology, Global Positioning Systems, telecommunications, telemedicine, and sleep monitoring.
Gay rights advocacy
Under Kahn's direction, Borland became the first software company to offer domestic partners full benefits and a pioneer for gay rights in Silicon Valley. Kahn was a key speaker at the pivotal gay rights conference on the Apple campus on October 19, 1993.
Kahn has four children. The first three – Laura, Estelle and Samuel – are from his first marriage. He later married to Sonia Lee, with whom he has a daughter, Sophie. Sonia co-founded three of Kahn's companies with him: Fullpower Technologies, LightSurf and Starfish Software.
Sailing and sports
Philippe Kahn's focus on the environment and the outdoors led him to the sport of sailing. Kahn's sailing team, Pegasus Racing, competes in many world championships each year around the world. An offshore sailor with over 10 trans-Pacific crossings, Kahn holds the Transpac double handed (two crewmember) record from San Francisco to Oahu, Hawaii.
His sailing achievements also include winning the double handed division of the 2009 Transpacific Yacht Race from Los Angeles to Hawaii, and setting the Transpac record at 7 days, 19 hours, beating the previous time of 10 days, 4 hours.
Kahn's son Samuel ("Shark") also took up sailing as a boy. In his teenage years he had several outstanding race wins, including the 2003 Melges 24 Worlds race right after he turned 15. He has competed against his father.
Kahn and his wife Sonia run the Lee-Kahn Foundation. According to the Foundation's website, it sponsors local and national non-profit organizations focused on environmental causes, and works to improve access to health care, education and the arts.
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- Transpacific Yacht Race – The perfect ride? – By Kimball Livingston, 7:40 AM on Thu May 19, 2011
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