Nest leader Tony Fadell on $555 million Dropcam buy: 'A lot of the employees were not as good as we hoped'

The leader of Nest, the smart home company Google bought for $3.2 billion in January 2014, expressed regrets about buying smart home camera company Dropcam for $555 million later that year.

In an interview with The Information as part of a long and excellent Nest expose (paywalled), CEO Tony Fadell admitted that about half of Dropcam’s 100 employees had left, and said “A lot of the employees were not as good as we hoped…unfortunately it wasn’t a very experienced team.”

Dropcam CEO Greg Duffy clashed with Fadell over who would control various aspects of the integrated companies’ camera business, and at one point Duffy asked Fadell to report directly to him instead of Nest cofounder Matt Rogers.

Fadell reportedly told him, “you haven’t earned it.” Duffy quit a few months later.

He also expressed regret over the Dropcam-Nest deal, telling The Information that, in hindsight, he felt like he had “failed all the people who worked for me and all the customers.”

Overall, Fadell comes a cross as a bit of a tyrant and micromanager in the article, a description that matches Business Insider’s previous reporting on Nest. (It also recalls some of the more extreme stories about Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, who Fadell worked under when he helped design the iPod.)

Perhaps the most startling example is when Fadell threatened to fire Nest cofounder Matt Rogers if he went on his honeymoon because Rogers’ team hadn’t delivered an important feature on time. Rogers went anyway, and Fadell didn’t follow through on his threat. Rogers, for his part, likened their relationship to a marriage and noted that good partners get over these kinds of “spats.”

Everybody’s buzzing about the article on Twitter this afternoon, and Information subscribers can read the full article here.

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