Tony Fadell on Nest deal, relationship with Apple, Google data sharing, home automation and more

Tony Fadell Bloomberg interview (image 001)

The iPod Godfather and Nest Labs co-founder and CEO, Tony Fadell, sat down with Bloomberg at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to talk specifics of the recently announced $3.2 billion Google deal, why he sold to the search monster, Nest’s relationship with Apple, the future of controlling household products and a few other topics of interests, here are your soundbites…

On Nest’s relationship with Apple:

Today we’re in the Apple retail stores, we have iOS support and that has not changed.

But will Nest be in Apple Stores now that Google owns the company?

“We’re still today, that’s their decision, you should ask them” he quipped.

Right now Apple is, and has been, a valued partner. We have a lot of iOS device owners that use our products and we want to make sure that we offer those things to them and it’s for Apple to figure out whether or not they wanna continue.

So, why sell to Google now?

This wasn’t about a financial transaction, this was about a vision that Larry and the board understood and they wanted to build this out in a big way.

But why $3+ billion?

Well, we have a revenue-based business so we can see the revenue trajectory. We make money, nice money. We have right customers and great brand and other assets besides our products and patents.

I’m loving Joy of Tech’s ‘before vs. after’ take on the deal.

Google-Nest deal (Joy of Tech 001)

He was then pressed on privacy concerns stemming from potential data sharing. Fadell originally promised in a company blog post not to share data with Google:

Our privacy policy clearly limits the use of customer information to providing and improving Nest’s products and services. We’ve always taken privacy seriously and this will not change.

Fast forward a few days later and Fadell changes tune, saying during an interview at the Digital-Life-Design conference that any data gathered by Nest devices will be “transparent and opt-in”, here’s the full quote (via The Next Web):

At this point, there are no changes. The data that we collect is all about our products and improving them.

If there were ever any changes whatsoever, we would be sure to be transparent about it, number one, and number two for you to opt-in to it.

Critics were quick to point that Fadell’s ambiguous statement leaves the door open to the possibility of sharing customer data with Google.

Tony Fadell holds Nest thermostat

And this is how he commented privacy concerns on the Bloomberg TV interview:

According to the Nest terms of service, we use the Nest data to improve the Nest products and that has not changed and that will not change and if it ever does, we will make sure to let you know. Right now that data is not going into all the other…

Check out the full Bloomberg TV interview.

He went on to mentione other home automation products that are ripe for disruption, like smart refrigerators that conserve energy when you’re not home and other home appliances that will bring various conveniences (he mentioned ‘saving energy’ a few times) into people’s lives.

“It’s not about getting in your face with technology, it’s about taking these cumbersome things away from you to trim the waste,” he explained.

“There’s a piece of mind that comes from having a cell phone and looking at the status of your home when you’re not there, like traveling like we are today.”

By the way, Nest thermostats and smoke detectors are in 96 countries where Nest doesn’t even sell today because we “see these items being connected, but we can’t get there fast enough”.

With Google’s world-class reach, marketing muscle and scale, that should no longer be a problem going forward.

If you’re asking yourself how the heck that deal with Google came about and who called whom, consider that the Internet giant has been an investor in Nest Labs from the onset, through its investment arm, Google Ventures.