Google, and now their spiritual successor Alphabet, has tried to maintain an image of being a fun, innovative workplace that puts high value on employees and treating them right. However, some recent news coming out of the conglomerate of companies and in particular Nest, the home automation company within Alphabet, suggests not everything is as rosy as one might think. A new post on Reddit from an engineer claiming to be a Nest employee has really stirred things up on the Internet with a tale of woe for employees and some pointed accusations directed at Tony Fadell, Nest’s leader.
According to the post on Reddit, most of the employees who remain at Nest for now are already looking at their long-term employment prospects and exit strategies. That is based on the potential for Nest to lose budget funding from Alphabet at the end of the year. Currently Nest is not generating sufficient revenue to cover costs. If funding were the only problem, that might be a problem that could be cured without too much pain. However, the writer of the Reddit post claims deeper problems exist.
One of the issues that is surfacing is an apparent planned obsolescence of hardware by the Nest division. The Reddit author describes this as a “time-bomb flaw you ignored so people will have to upgrade.” Although specifics are not mentioned, this could be a reference to the shutdown of the Revolv home automation hub. Google users are already familiar with the company’s propensity to shutdown platforms and services, though these are often software only. The end-of-life for Revolv may be the first high-profile example of Google killing a hardware product and forcing users to have to purchase a new solution.
Outside of the financial challenges and product issues, the engineer also claims that Fadell is engaged in some questionable business practices and has created a toxic work environment inside Nest. According to the post, “Tony and his goons” have set forth unrealistic timelines for projects and have a propensity to change specs in major ways at the last second. This has resulted in a workplace where “people fall asleep in corners and cry in the bathrooms” from dealing with various accusations of being incompetent.
How accurate this description is may be questionable, but recently Greg Duffy, CEO of Dropcam before it was acquired by Google and Nest, claimed Fadell ran the company like a “tyrant bureaucrat” and chased off a lot of Dropcam talent.