When he was five, Alexander Asseily fled Beirut with his family to escape the bombs. Since then, the thirty-four year-old co-founder and chairman of Aliph returns frequently to his homeland. When he talks about Beirut, there’s no mistaking the vivacity in his voice. Something else about Alexander’s voice? He’s got a British accent, acquired while growing up in London, where he briefly flirted with break dancing and, later during his teenage years, discovered the art of sculpting. At eighteen, Alexander made his next move: to college in California. There, our future headset hero could have chosen a very different path after starring in a short film project with Fred Savage (their costumes: disco gear).
We know what Alexander did instead: along with college pal Hosain Rahman, he co-founded Aliph, maker of Jawbone headsets. Read my interview with the gracious Lebanese British gentleman, Alexander Asseily.
- What is the meaning of your company’s name, “Aliph?”
The name Aliph is the first letter of the Arabic and Hebrew alphabets.
- What’s the most you’ve traveled within the period of a year?
In 2006, when we were developing the first Jawbone Bluetooth headset, I circled the globe – between San Francisco, Hong Kong and London — eight times in one year.
- What is your favorite city in the world and why?
Beirut. The imprints of countless civilizations, a melting pot of religions, a cross-roads between East and West, a nightlife to rival New York, and a form of tense, impatient energy and passion for life that could only be borne from years of conflict, resistance and uncertainty, make it a place like no other. Just go.
- When you travel, what is the one item you always take with you?
A Moleskine notebook. Always important to record ideas and other contemplations while on the move. Although a simple pad would probably do the trick, there’s a feeling of seriousness to one’s records, and at least a feeling that the ideas are decent, when they are recorded in a leather-bound notepad made famous by Hemingway and Picasso. Whether my ideas are comparable to theirs is another thing altogether
- What’s your technology obsession?
Oddly enough, I’m not the technophile people would expect me to be. I’m a harsh judge of technology products – something has to be really valuable for me to bother dedicating my time to learning it and using it. That said, I’m looking forward to new forms of interactive content that will come alive with products like the iPad. I’m excited for the emergence of the semantic web and the implications this has for connecting ideas.
- What are you listening to on your iPod these days?
New stuff: Little Dragon, Naada, LCD Soundsystem, Kraak & Smaak. Old Skool: Hendrix, Curtis Mayfield, Herbie Hancock. I am becoming jaded with the whole iPod experience for the simple reason that I’m bored with my collection and lack the mental space to seek out new tunes with which to refresh it. As a result I’ve become a fan of Pandora and Spotify because they surprise me with songs and artists I didn’t know about.
Are you a Jawbone fan? Make it official and join the Jawbone gang on Facebook.