Apr 15, 2021
Phillips W. Smith, Ph.D., was known as Phil to everyone -- including his sons Rick and Tom, the founders of our company. Phil was also instrumental in leading us from a young startup manufacturer of TASER energy weapons, to a publicly traded company, to what we are today: the leading provider of public safety technology solutions.
Phil was our first Chairman of the Board in 1993, and later Chairman Emeritus in 2006. He advised us with crucial insight, inspired us to make bold tech advances, and pushed us to continually strive for success. There is a painting of him in the lobby of our corporate headquarters.
Some people have a penchant for success or a bias for action. Phil was the epitome of act now, strike hard, fail fast, learn quick, and strike again. He believed you had to get fired once in your life to learn how to overcome challenges.
Axon was a company that lost money for the first eight years of its existence. He kept us going with his passion for our mission. His unstoppable drive. His believe-in-yourself intuition and all-hands-on-deck mentality. His trust in the people he worked with. He could be a driving, demanding boss, but he also knew when to say “You guys are smart. You’ll figure it out,” and then walk away. And he knew the importance of taking time to celebrate achievements and victories won.
In 2014, Phil had the chance to talk about the challenges and joys of startup life at Broad College. Watch the video and you can feel his spirit.
Phil was a West Point graduate and a military man – first as a submariner in the U.S. Navy, then as a pilot and research analyst in the U.S. Air Force. He was a serial entrepreneur in high-tech companies who held corporate officer positions at three Fortune 500 companies. He was a loving husband and father. He is deeply missed today.
Axon has grown so much, especially in the last five years. Not many of our current employees got to know Phil Smith personally, but the company still exudes his spirit in its culture and through our CEO, Phil’s son, Rick. With Phil’s passing we will take some time to remember our roots, our history and how our culture came to be – and in so doing, we will honor Phil’s memory.