Nolan Bushnell

Founder of Atari Corporation and Chuck E. Cheese

Nolan Bushnell is credited with pioneering the video game industry, as the founder of Atari Corporation. He also served as one of the first and only bosses for Steve Jobs. Bushnell explains how to identify and retain great talent.

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Nolan Bushnell created an industry when he founded Atari in 1972 and gave the world Pong, the first blockbuster videogame. Today his design credo—that games should be “easy to learn and difficult to master”—is inspiring a new generation of developers. A prolific entrepreneur, he has started more than 20 companies, including Catalyst Technologies, the first Silicon Valley incubator, and Etak, the first in-car navigation system—not to mention Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Time Theater. In the process, he pioneered many of the workplace innovations that have long made Silicon Valley a magnet for creative talent. Bushnell was the first and only person ever to hire Steve Jobs, which he details in his 2013 book, Finding the Next Steve Jobs. With his latest startup, BrainRush, he is intent on fixing education with software that uses gamification principles to “addict” students to learning. A biopic, tentatively titled Atari and slated to star Leonardo DiCaprio as Bushnell, is currently in preproduction.