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Founders of Arduino Take Back Their Company, Musto Replaced as CEO

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Whether you dabble in 3D printed electronics or are passionate about numerous, intricate projects, you are likely familiar with Arduino. Begun as a project in 2003 for Italian students, the open-source electronics platform now gives DIY inventors everywhere the access and affordability required to incorporate microprocessors and controllers into their work.

Most makers around the globe are less concerned with the corporate world and more so with creating clever and mindblowing devices that often look as if they could be used for special effects in movies—from 3D printed working droids to robotic parrots; however, Arduino is actually a company on its own, not just an exercise in open-sourcing generosity. And there has been trouble brewing for the company again since the spring as (now former) CEO Federico Musto was forced to admit that no, he does not possess a PhD from MIT, or even an MBA from New York University.

In a spring interview, Musto commented on the debacle, regarding his credentials listed on LinkedIn.

“This is wrong,” he said of the information on his profile.

Overall, yes. Padding your résumé with hefty degrees from MIT and NYU is some risky business, and Musto—receiving 50 percent ownership in Arduino last October—is now paying the piper in being ousted, replaced by the original founders and a new CEO, Dr. Fabio Violante. This is yet just another power play for the Italian company though.

Previously, Arduino has been no stranger to infighting among the founders. This led to a split, more legal battles, and the resulting Arduino AG, with Arduino LLC as its subsidiary. Now, as founders Massimo Banzi, David Cuartielles, David Mellis and Tom Igoe made up and created another new company, BCMI, they have basically wrested Arduino back from the sketchy Musto. Obviously, they are keeping the lawyers busy, as well as raising questions about the future direction of Arduino and its open-source platform.

The Arduino Mega

BCMI announced they now own 100 percent of Arduino AG, and consequently all of the Arduino trademarks. Banzi will serve as Chairman and CTO, while Violante takes over the CEO position. Musto, meanwhile, will ‘pursue other opportunities.’

“This is the beginning of a new era for Arduino in which we will strengthen and renew our commitment to open source hardware and software, while in parallel setting the company on a sound financial course of sustainable growth. Our vision remains to continue to enable anybody to innovate with electronics for a long time to come,” said Banzi.

“I’m really excited and honored to join Massimo, the co-founders and the amazing Arduino team as CEO. In the past two years we have worked very hard to get to this point. We envision a future in which Arduino will apply its winning recipe to democratize the Internet of Things for individuals, educators, professionals and businesses,” said Dr. Violante.

Musto, from LinkedIn

Suspicion arose over Musto’s PhD when he met Limor Fried, the founder of Adafruit. Unfortunately for Musto and the academic sham he was peddling, Fried is also a graduate of MIT. Musto’s vague answers about his time at MIT raised a red flag with Fried, and it did not take much digging to discover that MIT (as well as NYU) had no record of his attending (see images below).

“It’s true, it’s my fault, sometimes I try to squeeze and say, yes I got the MBA,” he told Wired. “Only thing I can prove is I went to kindergarten.”

Fried, as ‘a woman in tech,’ went on to explain why her intuition was probably so keen regarding Musto:

“When you go to MIT, there is always this murmur that they had to lower the standards for you,” she said. “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.”

Musto was also under fire for allegedly taking a range of licenses and code from the company’s lineup, as well as failing to create a promised foundation for Arduino. As an end-note to his debacle, the only education he now lists on LinkedIn is his Montessori kindergarten year in Italy. Discuss in the Arduino forum at 3DPB.com.

[Sources: Arduino; Wired; TechCrunch]

[Image credit: Wired]

Letters from MIT and NYU registrars regarding Federico Musto’s academic history. [Image credit: WIRED]

 

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