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Open-Source Hardware Hacker Ladyada Awarded Entrepreneur of the Year 56

ptorrone writes "Limor 'Ladyada' Fried of open-source hardware company Adafruit Industries was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year by Entrepreneur Magazine. From the article: '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.'"
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Open-Source Hardware Hacker Ladyada Awarded Entrepreneur of the Year

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  • she deserves it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tweezak ( 871255 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @01:30AM (#42333923)

    I've wondered what she was doing ever since she released Spoke POV years ago. I'm relieved to see that not all of her ideas were stolen.

    • Re:she deserves it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Tweezak ( 871255 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @01:34AM (#42333943)

      maybe that didn't sound quite right. Someone swiped the POV system she developed and sold it on car wheels. They didn't even bother to change the programming interface. I was always afraid someone else was getting rich off her ideas and hard work.

    • Re:she deserves it (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @03:13AM (#42334391)

      How do you steal an open source hardware design? Clearly she doesn't care if someone else used her hardware design or she wouldn't have made it public. Since it's hardware it's more about patents than copyright, and if neither she nor the company selling the hardware patented anything, who cares?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        don't be a troll.

        everyone here knows the GPL and CC-By-SA, and why content creators use them and what they hope to get in return.

        ripping off someone else's design and selling it for profit without credit is a moral crime if not a legal one. if you don't see anything wrong with living by whatever you can get away with, that's both sad and sociopathic.

        • But giving a million of your "friends" your entire music collection, without compensating the artists for their efforts, is still ok, right?

          • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

            It is if your music colection is all GPL. Want some free ebooks? Go to boingboing, Doctorow posts his books there. He credits that fact for his standing as a best selling author. As he puts it, "nobody ever went broke because of piracy, but many artists have starved because of obscurity."

            The more people that are exposed to your stuff, the more stuff you'll sell.

        • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

          What is trolling about it? Hardware design has nothing to do with GPL or CC since it's not a copyright issue, it's a patent issue. Besides, even the GPL has no problem with selling derived works for profit - and there isn't even a provision for credit, just redistribution of source.

          Anyway, I agree that giving no credit to the original designer is a sleazy move, but so is calling using someone's open source design "stealing". For all you know she could be happy to see someone building fully assembled and

  • Congratulations (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dutchwhizzman ( 817898 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @01:35AM (#42333949)
    Congratulations to her. She does run a truly innovative company that is based on actual production making actual profit. More companies should start doing that. You can't eat "projected revenue", drive it, or wear it against the cold.
    • Re:Congratulations (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @09:04AM (#42335677) Homepage

      She is a success because she is driven by creating and doing not by raw greed. This is what makes her not only a success, but she has far more respect from people than any fortune 500 CEO.

      Being a greedy Bastard, like Samsung, Apple, Dell, HP, Microsoft, etc... is more profitable in the long run because screwing people has a higher profit margin.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @07:42AM (#42335407)

    Great for her! I knew her back when she was 14, protesting the Scientology abuse of the Usenet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology. She organized the printing and sale of T-shirts with lots of secret Scientology code words, like "Xenu", the name of the cult's secret galactic conqueror demon, and various criminal actions of the cult such as "Operation Snow White".

    The T-shirt company actually tried to rip her off and keep the money without making the shirts. It took work, but rather than wasting all the money on lawyers, Ladyada and her dad arranged for her dad to pretend to be ready to order thousands of printed shirts, showed up in the company president's office, and her dad said "you have to deal with *her*". Having a punked out teenager who's smarter and much more coherent than you in your office, with her very angry father as backup, seems to have brought the T-shirt maker to his senses. I have 2 of those shirts,, and sent several to Dennis Erlich, a former cultmember who was a very vocal critic of the cult and a credible counter to the cult's attempts to whitewash away the crimes discussed in the old newsgroup.

    Ladyada was a shining example of political protest at its best: sharp, knew her material, and kept her concerns about actual abuse and criminal activity while staying completely legal. I'm thrilled to see she's as sharp commercially as she was politically. I like to think that the lessons we learned about handling abuse and censorship contributed to early handing of spam, astro-turfing, and even the recent Arab Spring by preserving the role of electronic communications as effective, uncensorable expressions of speech and knowledge. They were a vaccine against cult and government abuse, and Ladyada was one of the sharpest syringes we had to administer that vaccine.

    • The T-shirt company actually tried to rip her off and keep the money without making the shirts

      More details, please. What is the name of this t-shirt company? And why did they try to rip off a customer? Was it because they're prejudiced scum who figured a customer who is a minor and a female would just roll over dead rather than fight? Or did Scientology somehow hear about it and pressure them? But in the latter case, why not simply return the money? Of course the cult could have been encouraging the t-shirt maker to keep the money, to deal a crippling blow to the plans to make those t-shirts.

  • Open Source Sells... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 )

    Please All you nay sayers how you cant sell open source or make money off it... PLEASE, tell me how she is a failure...

    Open Sells. Open is Profitable. This is a fact.

    • Please All you nay sayers how you cant sell open source or make money off it... PLEASE, tell me how she is a failure...

      Open Sells. Open is Profitable. This is a fact.

      People will use single data points to make unconditional blanket statements. This is a fact.

      • by lurcher ( 88082 )

        People will use single data points to make unconditional blanket statements. This is a fact.

        Do you have any more examples of people doing that?

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Please All you nay sayers how you cant sell open source or make money off it... PLEASE, tell me how she is a failure...

      Well, she sells open source hardware. Not software, hardware. People are more willing to pay for atoms (and it's why the open-source hardware license does not allow for NC/ND - because they realize people will want to buy the things rather than go through the effort of building from scratch).

      Plus being a one-stop shop for practically everything you need helps a lot (like the Amazon model -

  • Ladyada created the brilliant x0xb0x - a faithful recreation of the Roland TB-303 synthesiser and sequencer, but with MIDI and a flashable firmware. It's a a brilliant device, and acknowledged that what made the 303 so good was the combination of synthesiser and sequencer. All previous clones had imitated the sound generation aspects alone.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've had opportunity to deal with Limor directly (why I'm posting as AC, as I am truly a coward) I like what she's doing in terms of her company, but personally, she's got a very closed "My way is better than yours" and "I make more money than you so you're wrong" attitude, which is very much different than many other open source folks I've dealt with. Maybe that is an effective personality trait in a CEO... I never want to have to deal directly with her again. If that is the way she also works with her emp
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @10:41AM (#42336317)

      I'm near retirement and have worked in embedded software for four different companies. In all my years of experience, the best engineers I have encountered were those educated at MIT. Limor Fried is not only from MIT, but she did a stint at the MIT media laboratory. I've bought lots of products from her and the quality is first rate, her circuit boards are works of art with tin plating on the solder pads (compare that to a Velleman board) and legible annotation.

      A year ago, I ported her software library for the Adafruit touch-screen LCD display to the STM32 ARM platform. I can tell you that her software design is close to perfect - I found very few places where I could improve on her methodology.

      What I like best about Limor Fried is her ability to teach fundamental concepts using state of the art multimedia. Where the beloved Heathkit had their extensive paper manuals, Fried publishes online tutorials with clear photographs and YouTube videos.

      I guess the point is that if you meet someone who is intellectually gifted, educated at one of our finest universities, and sports hot pink hair and a lip piercing, you should be adult enough to expect some, shall we say, personality quirks.

      Lastly, what is with all these adolescents here posting "anonymous" toilet jokes about Fried - was "Teen Beat" magazine uninteresting this month?

      Speaking of Anonymous postings, I'll give my name.

      James P. Lynch (Jim)

      • by Anonymous Coward

        My point was not about the quality of her work- it was how difficult she was to work *with* - a fundamental idea behind open source is that it is collaborative- my experience with her was that you had to do things her way, very much the antithesis of collaboration- which gives me the impression that her overall approach is fundamentally limited. I don't like her personality quirks in terms of human-human interactions. Hair color, piercings, etc. are irrelevant to her company's products.

        Do I want to use her

        • i do not believe this person claiming to work with limor has, could you provide any evidence at all?

    • by Xenna ( 37238 )

      A Tree Is Known by Its Fruit

      Matthew 12:33

    • hi "anonymous" - there isn't anyone that's worked with us at adafruit and limor that hasn't continued to work with us in some way that i am aware of. i've been part of just about every meeting or interaction on any of our products and limor has never said anything about "money" ever. if you've actually worked with her (or us) you'd know how bizarre your comment is. anyone is welcome to contact mitch altman, or jay silver or anyone we work with (we're very proud of all the makers we work with) - everyone at

  • It's not a motorcycle, it's a chopper. Whose chopper is thees? Zed. Who's Zed? Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead.
  • I'm very glad to see this company thriving. I thought after Radio Shack shitcanned its line of electronics kits, that future generations might not experience the joys of learning and assembling electronics projects. Here's to wishing her much success in the future!

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker