You Won’t Believe The Talent This Apple Hardware Guru Poached For His Stealth Startup

Executives and engineers with experience at Palm, Sony, Apple, Netflix, YouTube, and Intel have joined together to build something they say will solve a problem for billions of people–and the rumors are, it’s an Android-based tablet. Here’s who’s been poached to join the startup, and what we know about them so far.

You Won’t Believe The Talent This Apple Hardware Guru Poached For His Stealth Startup

A “stealth” startup called Black Pearl Systems has been quietly growing in the hands of the former head of engineering at Apple, Tim Bucher. The company has grown to 44 poached employees–and the list is jaw-dropping.


Company job listings say the company exists to “create a category-defining product to tackle a problem that faces billions of technology users,” which, for some rumor sites, indicates a tablet Android device. At least we know it’s definitely hardware related–not only because of the way the staff is filling out–see our complete rundown below–but because Black Pearl just joined the Consumer Electronics Association and booked space for CES 2014.

The top people at BPS read like a who’s-who of Silicon Valley heavy hitters. According to GigaOM’s Janko Roettgers, it’s rumored there will be top people coming from YouTube and Intel as well, but without full LinkedIn access to everyone on staff, we weren’t able to verify who. Here’s what we know about the people comprising Black Pearl Systems so far:

Tim Bucher

worked at Apple from 2003 to 2004 as VP of Macintosh System Development and then Senior VP of Macintosh Hardware Engineering. He oversaw the team that launched the Mac mini and also worked on the iMac and iPod. He worked at Sansa Connect from 2006 to 2008 and founded the collaborative music service ZING Systems, which was acquired by Dell in 2007, and where he remained as chief product officer before moving to Black Pearl.


Ain McKendrick

Cofounder and VP of user experience at BPS was one of Palm’s founding engineers and was senior director of Partner Products at Netflix. He was also a senior director at ZING and a senior member at TiVo.

Scott Smyers

The content CTO was an exec at Sony and Sunrise Digital Strategies. He also founded the DLNA consortium in 2003.

Joseph Palmer

BPS’s senior systems engineer (who doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile we could find) was an Apple engineer in the early ’90s and was director of hardware engineering at Danger from 2000 to 2005, where he pioneered the Sidekick’s swivel hinge. He also worked at ZING Systems with Bucher and McKendrick, beginning when it was acquired by Dell.


Jeff Ma

As director of UX, Ma specializes in visual UI design. Ma created the Apple TV UI during his seven years at Apple and worked at MonsterGecko and TiVo before that, where he overlapped with McKendrick for two years.

Greg Orzell

A team cofounder and cloud specialist, he came from Cloud Architect and worked on streaming and system stability at Netflix. He’s also, apparently, a SlideShare fan.

Piecing Together The Rest Of The Team

Here are the remainder of Black Pearl Systems’ 44 employees according to LinkedIn. Looking at the titles here–any specific guesses on what these guys are building? Let me know by tweeting @lilyhnewman and we can all engage in some rampant speculation. Fun!


Bethany B.

VP of Talent Strategy at SSBP

Christian K.

CTO Services at SSBP

Randeep Singh Gakhal

Director of Software Enginering at SSBP


Lilian D.

Recruiting at SSBP

Rich E.

Head of Strategic Partnerships at SSBP

Nick N.

Director of Business Operations at SSBP


Scott S.

Content CTO/Cofounder at SSBP

Curtis S.

Current: Software PM at SSBP

Paul O.

Director of Product Management at SSBP


Andrea T.

QA Engineer at SSBP

Rebecca B.

Director-Brand Marketing SSBP

Julie P.

Senior Engineering Manager, SSBP


Valerie S.

VP, Business Development at SSBP

Jeff M.

Director of User Experience at SSBP

Brian M.

Sr. DevOps Engineer at SSBP


Tony M.

Scurvy Bilge Rat at SSBP

Stanley H.

Senior Software Engineer at SSBP

Greg O.

sudo MCP-Founding Team at SSBP


Justin L.

Senior User Experience Designer at SSBP

Edgar L.

iOS Developer at SSBP

Peter S.

Principal Engineer at SSBP


Hannah D.

Business Admin. Manager at SSBP

Rick P.

Senior Software Scallywag at SSBP

Vidya Devarasetty

Manager-Software Quality Assurance at SSBP


Jyri V.

Builder at SSBP


Senior Software Engineer at SSBP

Andy Y.

System Development at SSBP

Robey P.

Coder at SSBP

Sri K.

Senior Software QA Engineer at SSBP

Stephen S.

Senior Software Engineer at SSBP

C J S.

Senior Software Engineer at SSBP

Rex C.

Developer/Founding Team at SSBP

John C.

Software Engineering Manager at SSBP

Sascha S.

Senior Software Pirate at Black Pearl Systems and SSBP

Xiaohan H.

Software Engineer at SSBP

Arielle Orbach-Smith

Recruiting Researcher at SSBP

Colleen H.

Director of Product Technology and Architecture at SSBP

[Image: Flickr user Eric]

About the author

Lily Hay Newman is interested in technology and eating lunch so she has hung around at Co.Labs, Gizmodo, IEEE Spectrum, Popular Mechanics, Discover and MetroNY. She writes about web apps and materials science more than sandwiches, but you never know when the tide will turn