Federico Musto is the new CEO of Arduino; he is the partner of one of the original five founders, Gianluca Martino, who created a scandal when it was revealed that he'd secretly secured an Italian trademark on the name "Arduino," behind his partners' backs.
After years of acrimony, Martino reconciled with his partners last year, and Musto took a 50% share in the company (his partners own 49% and Martino and another partner have the remaining 1%). But Musto rubbed some of the open source hardware community the wrong way. When he met with Adafruit founders Limor Fried and Phil Torrone, they noticed the MIT PhD on his business card; Fried, who has a degree from MIT herself, asked him about his advisor and lab affiliations. When he couldn't answer, they started to suspect that maybe he was lying about this.
They dug into it and found that neither NYU — where Musto claimed to have earned an MBA — nor MIT had any record of his attending their institutions. Called on this by a reporter from Wired, Musto deflected, first claiming that he occasionally misspoke about his credentials, then, when it was pointed out that his Linkedin profile and official bio listed the credentials, he blamed his underlings. He claims he was an exchange student and took a few courses at both universities, but neither can confirm even that.
Today, Musto's Linkedin profile lists a single academic affiliation: Montessori Kindergarten, 1971/72.
But to some, that commitment rings hollow for a simple reason: The open source community operates—as the name implies—on openness. "The maker community is like all small communities, in that it is full of people who don't let liars in," says Silver. Torrone says that one of the reasons why he went to the press with the information about Musto's credentials was precisely that: to defend the community.
To women in the maker movement, who are often accused of being fake geeks and frequently have their expertise questioned, Musto's apparent lies are personal affronts. "When you go to MIT, there is always this murmur that they had to lower the standards for you," Fried says. "And after you graduate, you get asked all the time if you were actually smart enough to have earned your credentials. It's a little bit insane that this guy has gotten this far without ever being questioned."
Arduino's New CEO, Federico Musto, May Have Fabricated His Academic Record [Nick Stockton/Wired]