Nest’s Tony Fadell channels Kevin Bacon at Google meeting, says all is well

There’s a scene near the end of “National Lampoon’s Animal House” in which Kevin Bacon’s character, in his ROTC outfit, is trying to help restore order on the streets of the town of Faber as mayhem descends all around him after John Belushi and the Delta house hooligans wreak havoc during a parade.

You might recall what this looked like.

And, based on what Tony Fadell recently did, you have to wonder if he might have used Kevin Bacon as his source of inspiration.

Fadell, known as one of the “Fathers of the iPod” during his tenure at Apple, is the chief executive of Nest. In 2014, Google bought Nest for $3.2 billion because it thought it would be cool to own a company that makes “smart” thermostats that are stocked on the end of that one aisle at Home Depot and other hardware stores. You’ve probably walked by that Nest display. If you have wondered what a Nest was, and not bought one, you aren’t alone. Over the last few weeks, there has been a raft of reports saying that Nest isn’t selling nearly as much stuff as Google hoped it would and the higher-ups at Alphabet, Google’s parent company, might be getting a little antsy with where Nest is going.

So, Fadell apparently went to one of Google’s weekly all-hands meetings and, channeling Kevin Bacon, said, “No, really all is well. Really! You believe me, don’t you?”

That’s according to a report in Recode, which says Fadell went to the April 1 meeting to try to calm fears about the state of Nest. Fadell reportedly said he was “not perfect” and “we know what our problems are” and while Nest is addressing its issues, “we have more room to go.”

Fadell is on the defensive following reports such as one in which Greg Duffy, the founder of home-monitoring camera maker Dropcam, called selling the company to Nest “a mistake” and blasted Fadell for saying a lot of Dropcam’s employees “were not as good as we hoped,” when Nest laid out $555 million for Dropcam in 2014. The working environment at Nest has also reportedly degenerated to a level that makes working for Vladimir Putin seem like going to Disneyland.

Recode said that during his appearance at Google’s TGIF gathering on April Fools Day, Fadell tried to alleviate concerns that Nest’s sales, which reportedly came to $340 million last year, are falling short of Google’s expectations after cutting a $3.2 billion check for the company.

“Every single year our annual sales have gone up nicely, nice growth every year since our inception,” Fadell said. “We have not had any slowdown in our sales growth. It continues.”

So, as Kevin Bacon would have said, “All is well!”

And, then there was the respect factor. Fadell threw around the term “respect” a lot. In a transcript of his comments, Fadell said:

“I also want to address the whole respect thing. I do respect the Nest employees. I do respect the Google employees. I respect the Alphabet employees. We try to work very hard together and partner in many different areas around the different companies.

I also respect ex-Nesters, ex-Googlers, those kind of things. So when I read those things that say we don’t respect people, or I don’t, it’s absolutely wrong and that is not how I believe because I want to be treated with respect. And I give respect because I want to get respect.”

Aretha Franklin, eat your heart out.

Photo: Nest CEO Tony Fadell announces new products during a press conference at Terra Gallery in San Francisco on June 17, 2015. (John Green/Bay Area News Group).


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  • Anthony C

    It’s crazy. I love Google but I’d have been more willing to pay big money for Dropcam than I would for Nest. They hurt Dropcam big time by trying to rebrand it to Nest and then messing up the software. Don’t even get me started on buying Boston Dynamics, stopping them from doing big money defense work, and then crying about them making money.