When Google bought Nest in 2014, it seemed like a good bet. After all, the company put out an amazingly successful smart thermostat and followed up that with the awesomely designed Nest Protect smoke alarm. Though they never made it to Australia, they were hits in the US. But after months of reports of shoddy leadership, Fadell is saying goodbye. Fadell says Marwan Fawaz will take over the ship at Nest. Fawaz previously worked as executive vice president at Motorola Mobility. Fadell will still be hanging around at Alphabet as an “advisor” to Larry Page:
Although this news may feel sudden to some, this transition has been in progress since late last year and while I won’t be present day to day at Nest, I’ll remain involved in my new capacity as an advisor to Alphabet and Larry Page. This will give me the time and flexibility to pursue new opportunities to create and disrupt other industries — and to support others who want to do the same — just as we’ve done at Nest.
Two of the biggest moments of backlash against Nest started in late March and early April. First, The Information reported that Fadell thought the Dropcam team wasn’t as capable as he’d hoped. This prompted former Dropcam CEO Greg Duffy to respond on Medium, saying that selling Dropcam to Nest was a mistake. Other reports from previous Nest employees paint a rosier picture of Fadell’s leadership.
Then, Nest decided it was going to stop supporting the Revolv smart hub, a gadget it acquired in October 2014. Not only did the decision anger users of the smart hub but also employees inside Google.
The most recent evidence of friction is Google’s decision to launch its new Echo-competitor under the Google name instead of as a Nest-branded product. The Information previously reported that Nest originally wanted the project and were “rebuffed”.
Although Nest released two well-designed products with the Nest Thermostat and Nest Protect, the gadgets themselves faced several hardware issues and even a recall. Nest had a major head start on the rest of the smart home industry, but failed to really capitalise on the advantage.
Since the plans for Fadell’s departure had apparently been in the works since late last year, maybe the more recent problems had nothing to do with it. It’s hard to think that there wasn’t some internal pressure for Fadell to get out of the way after having squandered several opportunity to become the dominant smarthome player. It’s not too late, and hopefully a brighter future lies ahead.