Nest, the troubled company Google bought for $3.2 billion, could soon face a talent exodus

Tony Fadell Kimberly White / GettyNest CEO Tony Fadell

It’s been a bad week for Nest, the Alphabet-owned home appliances company that was the subject of a brutal profile in The Information and whose CEO, Tony Fadell, was criticised in a blog post by one of his former colleagues.

But Nest’s woes may be about to get worse.

A Recode report notes that many of Nest’s employees are nearing the point when their stock vests, meaning that the so-called golden handcuffs keeping them at the company are about to be unlocked.

Google acquired Nest for $3.2 billion in 2013, giving it a promising foothold in the nascent market for internet-connected appliances. Last year, Google spun Nest out as one of the several “moonshot” subsidiaries under the umbrella of the Alphabet parent company.

But Nest’s revenue has fallen short of expectations. According to Recode, the company generated $340 million in revenue in 2015 — far below Wall Street estimates, which ranged between $400 million and $672 million. While Nest beat the $300 million internal sales target that Google set for the company when it was acquired, Nest made its numbers only by acquiring security camera maker Dropcam, according to the report.

And according to Recode, the guaranteed operating budget Fadell negotiated for Nest, which was initially as much as $500 million a year, will reach the three-year expiration date this year. Ditto the stock vesting schedule, that was structured to make sure Nest employees stuck around for at least three years.

All of this underscores just how difficult things have become at Nest, which was once put forth as a model for the Alphabet structure.

You can read the full Recode report here.

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