Nest founder and former Apple executive Tony Fadell, who championed the iPod before starting home-automation company Nest is leaving his CEO role
at the company, which is now owned by Alphabet (formerly Google). In a statement, Fadell claims he began discussions with Google about his "next endeavor" last year, and will move into an advisory role to Alphabet CEO Larry Page, turning over the keys at Nest to former Motorola Home and Charter cable executive Marwan Fawaz.
In announcing his departure from Nest some two years after it was bought by Google, Fadell noted that "I don't like to do 'maintenance mode,'" suggesting that Nest's principle products -- the Nest Learning Thermostat, Nest Cam (formerly Dropcam), and the Next Protect smoke detector will not be as actively developed as before, though he also said he was leaving the company with "a two-year roadmap." Fadell intends to focus more on some of the startup companies that he is involved with, such as the venture-funded Actev Motors electric go-kart company.
Despite Fadell's statement and a similar supportive release from Page, recent reports over the last year of Nest turmoil due to Fadell's abrasive and abusive management style -- a factor that also contributed to his departure from Apple -- and Nest's inability to generate another product anywhere near as popular as the Nest thermostat suggest that Fadell may have been forced out of the Nest division in a manner not dissimilar to his mentor Steve Jobs' original exit from Apple in the mid-80s.
Fadell admitted in a rather defensive interview with The New York Times
that he is apparently unable to get new products launched at Nest anymore, saying that just improving existing products is "not what gets me out of bed." He said that he was "looking forward to my new role as an advisor to Alphabet and Larry, which will give me more 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. We should all be disruptors!"
Less clear in Fadell's departure is what may become of the remnants of the Google Glass project, transferred to his supervision at the beginning of last year. Nothing has been heard from the project since, and it was widely assumed to be killed off. Fadell was the subject of a scathing expose on a "broken" company culture at Nest published by The Information
in March, and there was a brief Twitter war
between Fadell and Dropcam founder Greg Duffy later that same month -- the revelations of which show an executive widely despised within his company, and perhaps laying the foundation of Fadell's departure.
Fadell told the NYT that he wants to do more mentoring to younger tech companies: "I don't know why I feel this way, but between working closely with Bill Campbell, working closely with Steve Jobs, and watching a lot of my mentors pass on, unfortunately, I feel like I bear this responsibility now," he said. "There's a few of us who are keepers of that knowledge." Fadell invests in a number of startups, including Impossible Foods, Actev, Mousera, and Phononic.