Back in February, Google announced that Nest would return after a stint as an independent Alphabet company. The smart home maker joined the hardware division to drive closer integration, with Google today revealing that Nest will be a part of the home and living room team. Rishi Chandra will still lead that group at the expense of Nest CEO Marwan Fawaz.
According to CNET, Fawaz’s departure was something advocated for by Nest employees. The former telecom industry executive and CEO of Motorola Home was seen as “operations manager” rather than an innovative leader.
Fawaz was named CEO by Alphabet’s board after the departure of Tony Fadell in 2016. However, he never found his footing, with some at Nest saying that this tenure only resulted in “on-time mediocre products” rather than more innovative devices.
Meanwhile, over the past five months, employees questioned why Nest retained a general manager figure in Fawaz now that it was under Rick Osterloh. Since the merger, the smart home maker remained under the general umbrella of Google Hardware.
For his part, Osterloh disagrees with the characterization made of Fawaz, a former colleague from Motorola. Fawaz will remain as an executive adviser for the hardware business, Alphabet companies, and other “future strategic investments.”
In contrast, many internally are applauding the appointment of Rishi Chandra, a 12 year veteran that led hardware like Google TV, Chromecast, and currently oversees Google Home. Last seen on stage at the 2017 Made by Google event, Chanda noted in an interview that this merger is a “natural evolution” and that the plan is to build more connected experiences between products.
Nest has had a rocky history since the 2014 acquisition by Google. Some point to the Alphabet reorganization in 2015 as the cause, with Nest given a new progress mandate that came into conflict with one of the original principles of the merger. Namely, that Fadell and company would be allowed to innovate within Google and take advantage of the larger company’s resources.
Meanwhile, according to CNET, Alphabet held talks with Amazon to sell Nest in 2016. The deal obviously did not occur, with Fadell apparently serving as an obstacle by not wanting to take part in the sale.
Update: Google and Rick Osterloh issued a statement this evening rebutting some “unsourced comments” from CNET’s report. It defends Fawaz’s tenure as CEO, noting that “employee retention and satisfaction have significantly improved over his time with the team.”
“We are accelerating the merger of our Home and Nest teams to provide our users and businesses with even better services under the leadership of Rishi Chandra. Marwan Fawaz is a strong CEO with a track record of operational excellence who led the integration planning efforts and was responsible for determining our organizational strategy. Marwan has done a remarkable job driving revenue growth, improving product quality, expanding the product portfolio and user satisfaction at Nest. Nest’s employee retention and satisfaction have significantly improved over his time with the team. Unsourced comments suggesting otherwise are wrong. I am pleased to report that he will stay with us as an executive advisor for our hardware business, for Alphabet companies, and future strategic investments.”