It’s hard to argue with the decision to “transition” Fadell away
from Nest. When Google bought Nest in January 2014, the
expectation was that a big infusion of Google’s resources and
money would supercharge Nest. Nest grew from 280 employees around
the time of the Google acquisition to 1200 employees today. In
Nest’s first year as “a Google company,” it used Google’s
resources to acquire webcam maker Dropcam for $555 million, and it
paid an unknown amount for the smart home hub company Revolv.
Duffy said Nest was given a “virtually unlimited budget” inside
Alphabet. Nest eventually transitioned to an Alphabet company,
just like Google.
In return for all this investment, Nest delivered very little. The
Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Protect smoke detector both
existed before the Google acquisition, and both received minor
upgrades under Google’s (and later Alphabet’s) wing. A year after
buying Dropcam, Nest released the Nest Cam, which was basically a
rebranded Dropcam. Two-and-a-half years under Google/Alphabet, a
quadrupling of the employee headcount, and half-a-billion dollars
in acquisitions yielded minor yearly updates and a rebranded
device. That’s all.
Whatever you want to say about Tony Fadell’s leadership style, I don’t see how anyone could deny that Nest has nothing to show for its time as an Alphabet subsidiary. It’s not even like they launched stuff that failed. They’re still the same thermostat/smoke detector company they were before Google bought them. Kind of bizarre, really.