Marc Porat

Investor, Entrepreneur and Co-Founder at General Magic


Marc is interested in revolutionary thinking and doing. Raised in the 1960s, he was immersed in five simultaneous disruptive forces – environmentalism, civil rights, feminism, counter-culture and organizing to end the Viet Nam war. Marc wrote a PhD dissertation at Stanford University – The Information Economy – which has been widely cited as the first analysis of the USA as an information-based economy. He was recruited by the Aspen Institute, where he produced, wrote and hosted a 90-minute documentary, “The Information Society”. In 1988, he joined Apple Computer and wrote a book called “Pocket Crystal – Whole Person Thinking” which described what a smart phone looked like, felt, and how it would be intimately integrated into the lives by people all over the world.

He spun out the idea as an independent company – General Magic in 1991. Marc was its CEO & Chairman. He is now best known for driving the vision and plan to create a smart phone. With an extraordinary group of Apple and Silicon Valley engineers, General Magic went public and shipped its first “personal communicator” in 1995 — 17 years before the iPhone (2012). It was too early – just as the beginning of digital cellular and the internet — and ultimately failed. But the brilliant engineers at Magic went on to create revolutionary things, including the iPhone, Android and Apple Watch.

The story was made into a documentary feature, “General Magic – the Movie” and premiered in 2018 at the Tribeca Festival. It won many Festival awards, is now streaming worldwide. In early 2020, it was the #1 documentary feature on iTunes. The film is both an origin story (the smart phone) and a personal story — having a crystal clear vision, attracting a world-class team of amazing people who gave their heart and soul to the effort; then feeling the crushing pain of failing to achieve the vision, and finally the satisfaction of seeing the incredible impact of smart phones on everything.

Following General Magic, Marc turned his attention to climate change. Climate change was just begun to be understood outside the science community – namely, that it is a global existential threat (we have no Planet B), and we have only three options available – adapt, mitigate or suffer. Inspired by the challenge, Marc founded three companies to help mitigate climate change. CalStar invented a cement that produced almost zero CO2 (cement is responsible for 6-7% of global greenhouse gases. Zeta designed and built net-zero energy modular homes. Serious Materials made energy-efficient windows (e.g. all the windows in the Empire State Building).

Marc now does some investing, advising, and speaking with groups about life’s lessons and what’s next. He is creating a retreat mini-campus in downtown Napa for leaders and entrepreneurs – small passionate teams intent on changing the world, or at least helping to fix its many issues. Marc has two adult children, and three under the age of 6. That keeps him busy.