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Triangle entrepreneur at core of iPhone 5S technology

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F. Scott Moody felt like a proud papa Tuesday afternoon when Apple announced that its new iPhone 5S will include a fingerprint sensor that users can use to unlock the device.

Apple’s upcoming Touch ID feature originated at AuthenTec, the company that Moody, an N.C. State graduate who recently moved back to the Triangle, co-founded and led for more than a decade. Apple acquired AuthenTec last year for $356 million.

“It makes me proud – and proud of the team and people I worked with,” Moody said. “Our product was such a big part of (Apple’s) announcement today.”

Moody co-founded AuthenTec in 1998 and was its CEO from its inception until September 2010. He also was chairman from 2006 to 2010 and remained on the board of directors until Apple completed its acquisition.

AuthenTec raised more than $70 million in venture capital and had a successful initial public offering of stock under Moody’s leadership.

But Moody downplays his role in the development of AuthenTec’s fingerprint technology.

“I would often joke with people, I co-founded the company with a smart guy,” said Moody, referring to co-founder Dale Setlak.

With Touch ID, a user will be able to unlock the Apple 5S by touching the home button. It’s designed as a security measure, since many iPhone customers never set up a passcode.

Touch ID also can be used to authenticate iTunes purchases.

Moody said he had no inside word that the new iPhone would incorporate AuthenTec’s technology, although there were plenty of rumors swirling around.

“Apple is very confidential, as they should be about things,” he said.

In December, Moody, 56, and his wife, Katherine – whom he met when he was at N.C. State and she was attending UNC-Greensboro – moved to Cary from Melbourne, Fla., where AuthenTec was based.

Moody said he was drawn to the Triangle by the vibrant startup scene and the strong infrastructure that’s entrepreneurs can tap into.

In addition to scouting out investment opportunities for Stonehenge Capital – he’s a venture partner at the Florida venture capital firm – Moody is working with local startups.

That includes serving as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network. He also holds weekly office hours at business incubator HQ Raleigh and at Groundwork Labs, a Durham organization that helps technology startups.

“I’m willing to help anybody that asks,” Moody said.

“We have been calling him Grounderworker-in-residence,” said John Austin, director of Groundwork Labs. “He has a great way of giving advice to folks. He tells them what he thinks and he does it in a very engaging way.”

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