Adafruit's Limor Fried wins Entrepreneur's Entrepreneur of 2012

Congrats to our friend Limor Fried for winning Entrepreneur's Entrepreneur of 2012 award!

Recognizable by her signature vivid-pink locks, Fried (or Ladyada, as she is known on the internet) is one of the dominant forces behind the maker movement--a legion of do-it-yourself-minded folks who create cool things by tweaking everyday technology. Last year New York City-based Adafruit did a booming $10 million trade in sales of DIY open-source electronic hardware kits, so-called because project designs are free and publicly accessible, and customers are encouraged to modify or "hack" the final product. In addition to MintyBoost ($19.50), the online catalog includes in-house designs like the iNecklace ($75), a pendant shaped like an Apple gadget's "on" button, complete with a pulsing LED light; and third-party products that have earned the "Adafruit seal of approval," like the MaKey MaKey ($49.95), a device that can turn any object that conducts electricity--a coin, cat, banana--into a functioning touchpad or keyboard.


  1. Congrats to Limor, staff and everyone at Adafruit. I have a bunch of her kits and have followed many of her tutorials and projects. I can think of no-one better deserving of this award.

    Happy Days!!!! :D

  2. I vaguely remember that she got rejected on something and the stated reason was that they did not consider her a business.  That was ages ago, during the early days of Adafruit.

    I guess a 10 mil in rev counts as a business now?

  3. How cool. I’ve looked admiringly through their site a few times and thought it was a tiny crazy hobbyist business. Nice to hear they’re actually doing well.

  4. Her little kits are nice but she has a seriously overblown reputation as an engineer.

    Two cases in point:

    1.  The MintyBoost has serious problems as a charger, sure it’s a cute use of a current thief circuit but LadyAda doesn’t seem to understand impedences.

    2.  She did a scathing report on so-called nefarious “secret resisters” used by Apple in its charging via USB circuit.   Rot.   Those resistors are necessary to make the USB interface conform to the USB electrical standard.   She either doesn’t understand that, or is doing a beat up.

    Good entrepreneur.   Not to be taken too seriously on technical matters.

      1. My source is the USB Battery Charging Spec (Battery Charging v1.2 Spec and Adopters Agreement).    Section 3 is what you’re looking for.

        You have to read the whole thing carefully (and it took me about 2 days to realise that ladyada had completely missed this stuff)

        Basically it says that various voltage levels are used to detect the current requirements of the attached device.   Those voltage levels are set by the so-called “secret resistors”.

        In fact ladyada *knows* that’s what those resistors do, she just doesn’t realise that they’re part of the standard.   Instead she does some reverse engineering, discovers how the trick is done but then goes off the rails and says Apple is doing something “secret”.   They’re not.

        What we’re looking at in the case of Apple is simply good engineering in line with standards.   Nothing nefarious at all.

        No woo-woo here, move along.

        1. Hi there, thanks for the thoughtful note!

          According to the spec, DCP (dedicated charging port) must have D+ and D- shorted (well, 200 ohms). This is in fact true for nearly all non-apple phone devices. However, it does not work for iOS devices- & sprinkled throughout the spec are references to a mysterious ‘proprietary’ charger system that pulls D+/D- high which doesn’t match the D+/D- tie

          Having read the the document a few times, it doesn’t seem clear where the spec mentions the Apple-specific 49.9K/75K resistor divider (those values are official Apple spec but that spec is under NDA). Can you help me find it & email Very interested in any insight you can give that the USB charging spec discusses Apple’s ‘proprietary’ technique in detail :)

          1. ladyada

            The spec talks in terms of voltage levels being used to indicate charging current requirements.

            How the implementor achieves those voltage levels is entirely up to them.   That Apple chose those particular values in a resistor network comprising a voltage divider is neither here nor there.   The spec is silent on how you do it, resistors, magic pixies, it doesn’t matter just so long as you comply.

            There is nothing nefarious about this at all.   Your suggestion that there is, is simply a beat up.

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