Silicon Valley's Hearing Aide

At 77, a well-connected ear surgeon wants to remake an industry
Perkins’s startup, Soundhawk, will use Bluetooth to improve hearing aids Photograph by Ariel Zambelich for Bloomberg Businessweek

As a founder of the California Ear Institute at Stanford University, Rodney Perkins met many of the founding fathers of Silicon Valley. Among the surgeon’s friends—and sometime patients—were William Hewlett and David Packard; Intel’s co-founder, Gordon Moore, and its former chief executive officer, Andy Grove; and Manhattan Project charter member Edward Teller, one of the inspirations for Dr. Strangelove. Over the years he lunched with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and worked with leading venture capitalist Eugene Kleiner. “I didn’t realize until very recently that I had actually been a voyeur at the biggest renaissance since Florence,” Perkins says.

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