In The Information‘s recent article about Nest and continued strife within the Alphabet subsidiary following a struggle-filled acquisition of Dropcam, Tony Fadell was dismissive of any blame for the departure of more than 50 Dropcam employees and their leader, Greg Duffy. “A lot of the employees were not as good as we hoped,” he said. He went on, saying Dropcam was “a very small team and unfortunately it wasn’t a very experienced team.”
Obviously this didn’t sit well with the former CEO of the San Francisco-based security cam company, who left Nest after a feud with the father-of-the-iPod over his brash ‘tyrant bureaucrat’ leadership style. And he took to his Medium blog this morning to chime in…
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He starts by defending the small 100-person team’s accomplishments before the Nest acquisition (which he now says was a mistake). He brags of the team’s mass-manufactured hardware device that became a “4.5-star bestselling camera” on Amazon, rolled out to brick-and-mortar retailers, “cloud video service that processed more incoming video than YouTube,” “first hardware-service models in our industry with a 40%+ conversion rate paid subscription,” and more.
But it gets serious quickly, with Duffy saying that, while he can’t publish Dropcam’s exact revenue, a serious percentage of all of Alphabet’s “other bets” revenue would have Dropcam to thank. He also says that Nest, which has been built from the ground up by Tony Fadell, would “not look good in comparison” and challenges the Nest founder to release financials to back up his statements.
I can’t publish Dropcam’s revenue, but if you knew what percentage of all of Alphabet’s “other bets” revenue was brought in by the relatively tiny 100-person Dropcam team that Fadell derides, Nest itself would not look good in comparison. So, if Fadell wants to stick by his statement, I challenge him to release full financials (easy prediction: he won’t).
Duffy then goes on to say that the 50-or-so Dropcam employees that left “did so because they felt their ability to build great products being totally crushed,” a stark contrast to Fadell’s statements, which suggest that they simply weren’t ready to work at the smart home Alphabet company.
The ~50 Dropcam employees who resigned did so because they felt their ability to build great products being totally crushed. All of us have worked at big companies before, where it is harder to move fast. But this is something different, as evidenced by the continued lack of output from the currently 1200-person team and its virtually unlimited budget.