Nest became an integral part of Google earlier this year, but the Palo Alto-based subsidiary is already experiencing significant turbulence.
Both sides have confirmed that CEO Marwan Fawaz is no longer leading the home automation unit. Instead, team members at Nest now report to Google’s Rishi Chandra. The executive also manages living room products like the Home and Chromecast.
The brand won’t be retired in favor of Google using its own name. Into the future, we’ll continue seeing Nest roll out products separate from the core Google-branded lineup. The idea is that, despite the two teams working together, Nest will focus on connected devices for the home while Google takes care of personal devices.
As Nest aims to expand its portfolio, Google would like to blend its goals. That, of course, all depends on the teams actually communicating and collaborating.
Fawaz will remain as an adviser for Google and its parent company, Alphabet. He also said Nest won’t be subject to any layoffs in the immediate future. But there’s still an in-limbo feeling for the team working on thermostats, smoke alarms, cameras, and doorbells.
The mood at Nest hasn’t been vibrant since rejoining Google in February. Many employees never viewed Fawaz as a leader, according to CNET. It also hurt the team when Google began exploring a sale. Amazon engaged in discussions in 2016, with talks described as advanced. Google even asked an investment firm to shop around and see what Nest could be sold for.
Around the same time, co-founder Tony Fadell stepped down as CEO. The entire subsidiary became worried because, aside from losing its longtime face, Google wasn’t pouring in resources as promised. Nest basically operates on an island, some employees say.
The report suggests that Nest employees are relieved to be following Chandra because of his experience. He helped transform the Chromecast into a top-selling streaming device, and Google’s smart speakers have flourished in the last year-and-a-half. Whenever the company discusses its living room products, Chandra is explaining it all.
Rick Osterloh, who leads Google’s bustling hardware division, dismissed the idea that employee retention and satisfaction suffered Fawaz’s leadership. Now he wants to see the teams make a concerted effort.
Because we’re talking about Google, let’s remember how fickle its activity can be. Google is committed to Nest at the moment, but in a few months the business might be put back up for sale. It’ll take some time to understand if Nest and Google are able to operate together under a new boss.