Nest CEO Steps Down As Google Brings Unit In-house

Google has reshuffled its smart home portfolio after it was revealed that the Nest division would be brought back under the control of the search engine.

The move, which also sees Nest CEO Marwan Fawaz stepping down, essentially signals the end of Nest’s time as separate company.

California-based Nest was acquired by Google back in 2014 for $3.2 billion after it made its name with just two household devices, namely the Nest Thermostat and the Nest Protect smoke detector.

Nest shakeup

Since that time Google allowed Nest to operate as an independent entity outside the Google fold, before it brought Nest back under its control in February this year, housed within Google’s generic hardware division.

This moved happened as the search giant battled Amazon and Apple in the rapidly expanding smart home market.

But now according to Cnet, Google has informed Nest employees that Marwan Fawaz will be stepping down as Nest CEO, and division will be combined with Google’s home and living room products team.

It is being reported that the shakeup should make it easier for Google’s smart home devices to work with each other and tap into artificial intelligence and machine learning advances

Going forward Nest will now be merged with Google’s home devices unit and will be under the control of Rishi Chandra, VP of product management for Google’s home and living room products.

“This is the natural evolution,” Chandra reportedly said. “We thought, let’s connect these things and build experiences that we really couldn’t do before.”

Former Nest CEO Marwan Fawaz will remain with Google and parent company Alphabet as an executive adviser, and there will be apparently be no layoffs as a result of the shakeup.

Google also intends to keep the Nest brand, according to Fawaz.

The move does potentially open up the interesting possibility of Google integrating Nest’s web-connected thermostat, smoke alarm and home security system, with its Google Home smart speakers and Chromecast streaming devices.

And it seems on the surface at least that Nest staffers are happy at the move, as some had reportedly begun pushing for a leadership change amid complaints that Fawaz was more of an operations manager than a leader.

One long-time Nest employee is reported by Cnet as saying, “I’m happy to leave Nest in Rishi’s hands.”

Amazon rival

Last year Nest’s smart surveillance camera was found to contain a bug in its firmware that enabled burglars to disrupt the feed from being recorded by establishing a Bluetooth connection.

And just last month Nest launched its Nest Hello facial recognition video doorbell in the UK.

That smart doorbell thrust Google into direct competition with its tech rival Amazon, which in April this year completed its $1 billion (£699m) acquisition of smart home equipment supplier Ring.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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