Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Rottenest

Reed Albergotti wrote an extraordinary article for the Information about Nest’s year of struggles. There are a lot of on-the-record quotes for executives, all of whom have their own horror stories about working with Tony Fadell, working with Alphabet executives, and issues of growth.

Fadell is known to be a demanding boss, but some of the Alphabet-related stuff is particularly messy:

In an interview with The Information, Mr. Fadell acknowledged some management difficulties, which he said stemmed from the speed at which the company has grown. Growth “didn’t happen as dramatically at other places,” he said, referring to other companies he’s worked for, like Apple and Phillips.

He said that Alphabet was tightening the financial screws. “The fiscal discipline era has now descended upon everything.” Alphabet’s message is now “hey, show us your business plan for the year. We’re going to hold you to those numbers.” Mr. Fadell said Alphabet is putting the same pressure on all of its subsidiaries it dubs “other bets.”

And:

[As] Nest has delayed the release of products, Google has moved forward on similar efforts of its own. It built the OnHub, a wireless router that performs some of the functions that Nest’s Flintstone was at one time meant to perform, including a hub and thread radio.

In a statement, Mr. Fadell said that OnHub was an example of a “collaborative effort between the two companies.” He said it didn’t initially include Nest technologies such as its Thread wireless radio “but once the team at Google understood the benefits, they included the technologies in the final product.”

Separately, Nest asked to be included in a secret Google project to create a competitor to Amazon’s Echo, a voice-controlled personal assistant device. But the Google executive in charge of the project, which has not been reported on publicly until now, said Nest would not be involved in its development, according to a person with knowledge of the discussion.

Why does Google own Nest if they’re not going to fully utilize their expertise?

(I’m linking to John Gruber’s mirror which, for some reason, is attributed to Matthew Panzarino’s Information account, not Gruber’s.)