Nixon was founded by Andy Laats and Chad DiNenna after DiNenna’s unsuccessful attempt to find a watch that reflected his personal style.
Both Laats and DiNenna worked in the action sports industry and were introduced through mutual people working in those circles. Laats, a former snowboard product manager at Burton with an engineering degree from Cornell University, was in the process of earning his Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Stanford University when he and DiNenna met to discuss the startup of Nixon. DiNenna, originally from Southern California, had studied Communications at California State University, Long Beach and previously worked in publishing at TransWorld Media for five years prior to the launch of Nixon.
Laats and DiNenna raised nearly US$1 million from venture capitalists to start Nixon and, in 1997, the debut catalog was released; seven models were released through 200 retailers. Nixon opened a subsidiary in France in 2000, and by 2005 had 90 models and 60 employees, with sales growing by 55 percent annually.