David Samuel '94

Internet radio pioneer takes on the high-tech toilet.

David Samuel ‘94 arrived at MIT with six years’ experience running his own DJ business. So naturally he signed up for an acoustics class taught by Amar G. Bose ‘51, SM ‘52, ScD ‘56, the founder of the audio-equipment company that bears his name. To his surprise, he wound up learning about a lot more than the physics of sound.

David Samuel’s next big idea – the electronic toilet. (Courtesy of the Alumni Association.)

“Most of Professor Bose’s class was geared toward acoustics, but when we toured Bose headquarters, we got to see more of his entrepreneurial drive,” says Samuel. “He had numerous projects going on, some very unrelated to speakers.” That day Samuel learned to follow his entrepreneurial instincts, even when they veer into wildly unfamiliar territory. “When I see a product and a market that I like and I believe in, I want to go after it,” he says.

Samuel, who now lives in Larkspur, CA, with his wife and one- and three-year-old children, earned his SB in electrical engineering and went to work at Oracle in 1994 as a technical-support engineer and application developer. In 1996, he melded his love of music with his technical expertise to found Spinner Networks, an Internet radio pioneer. Three years later, he sold the company to AOL for $320 million.

During an international trip four years ago, Samuel was impressed to learn that 60 percent of Japanese households have electronic toilets, which function like high-tech bidets. His earlier work having helped change the way the public listens to music, Samuel was ready to cause a similar shift in American bathrooms. Brondell, a company he cofounded in 2003, produces and markets touchpad-operated electronic toilets with a heated seat plus a sprayer and dryer. While he serves as Brondell’s chairman, he is also cofounder and president of another new venture, Grouper Networks, an Internet video-sharing company.

Samuel’s seemingly unrelated businesses nicely illustrate another lesson he learned at MIT-live a balanced life. He accomplished this at MIT by living at Beta Theta Pi and serving as the fraternity’s social chair for four years. He got the job because of his DJ experience, his business acumen, and his 1985 Chevy Suburban.

“I had the truck that could haul all of the party favorites,” he says. “That was definitely one of the requirements for the job.”

Cut off? Read unlimited articles today.

Become an Insider
Already an Insider? Log in.

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly magazine delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look: exclusive early access to important stories, before they’re available to anyone else

    Insider Conversations: listen in on in-depth calls between our editors and today’s thought leaders

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly magazine delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly magazine delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.