Surprise! Google just announced it has acquired the home automation startup, Nest, for $3.2 billion.
According Nest founder Tony Fadell, the acquisition won't affect the day-to-day operation of Nest, nor will it change anything about its branding. "Nest will stay Nest," says a company rep—though when has that ever truly been the case with a Google acquisition? Fadell explains his reasoning in a post on his blog, relayed to us through email but available online soon:
Google has the business resources, global scale and platform reach to accelerate Nest growth across hardware, software and services for the home globally. And our company visions are well aligned – we both believe in letting technology do the hard work behind the scenes so people can get on with the things that matter in life. Google is committed to helping Nest make a difference and together, we can help save more energy and keep people safe in their homes.
It's a move that's sure to irk users concerned about privacy—after all, Nest designs products that connect your home to the internet, and not everyone will be heartened by knowing that the search giant now controls that company. In an email statement, Nest Vice President Matt Rogers addressed privacy concerns by saying the following:
Meanwhile, Fadell points out that Google has been involved at Nest for three out of its four years of operation. Google Senior VP Sundar Pichai broke the news with a welcoming tweet:
All of this aside, this is smart, smart decision for Google—which has struggled to find its foothold as a design-forward company. Fadell, who got his start at Apple and was the primary designer of the iPod, has transformed a company with good design before.
In a July 2013 interview with The New York Times, Fadell describes those years at Apple, when he was brought in to consult on a personal mp3 player—as of yet to be named:
Music has always been one of my passions. Philips wanted to expand in the United States, and the company named me vice president for business development to manage its digital music strategy and investments. Being a corporate guy wasn't enough for me, so I left to start Fuse Systems, a consumer electronics company. But it foundered when the Internet bubble burst in 2001. That same year, Apple Computer hired me as a consultant in designing what would become the iPod digital music player. Computers plus music plus Apple — it was another dream gig.
Eight weeks later, I approached Steve Jobs with the initial iPod concept and was put in charge of building and leading the development team. One iPod led to another, eventually becoming 18 generations of iPods — and then three generations of the iPhone.
Can Google buy good design sense? At $3.2 billion, let's hope so.