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Leaving the Nest (nest.com)
429 points by shawndumas on June 3, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 258 comments

From https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11105510


outside1234 109 days ago

I worked there. It was literally the worst experience of my career - and I have worked at all of the hardest charging blue chips and two successful startups - so it is not about high expectations - but abuse. I still wake up with something like PTSD occasionally from getting yelled at and bullied by Tony Fadell almost literally every day while I was there.

I have a distance from it now -- and a way better job. It made me realize that the culture of a place is really what makes it and that "how" you get results really matter. I bought into the Apple pedigree of the place without understanding that the way Tony got there was through essentially wrecking other people's lives.

I have no idea why Google bought this. Tony literally stood up at an all-hands after the Alphabet thing and said "Fuck being Googley" (direct quote).

Frankly, if I could offer Larry Page once piece of advice it would be to take Tony out front of TGIF and fire him publicly -- all of this comes from Tony. Matt is just his hatchet man and fake cofounder.

There are a lot of great people at Nest and they deserve a better leader.


This is the story I've heard from everyone I know who works there. Not a great place to be.

In retrospect, this line made me chuckle, it being a Friday and all:

>>> Frankly, if I could offer Larry Page once piece of advice it would be to take Tony out front of TGIF and fire him publicly

As a side note, I have been thinking about Yishan-style CEOs for a while now and part of the point is to fix these problems.

What do you mean by Yishan's style?

Yishan-style CEOs?

I am talking about Yishan Wong, formerly of Reddit.

Monday's standup: Y: Fired Tony Fadell

T: Realized that we made him an "advisor", dealing with backlash from that

But TGIF is on Thursday.

(Seriously, Google is kind of odd.)

Google is an international company and Silicon Valley is at the butt end of the world timezonewise, so holding it on Thursdays lets all the other offices dial in on a weekday.


I never got upvoted more on HN.

I wonder if you were there when I reported 768-bit DHE on one of Nest's servers to Google security around mid-2015. Especially if you were following @NestSupport on Twitter around this time (there was also https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1170833). It wasn't long after that they had to hire a VP of security (when Alphabet was formed I think).

I have to wonder if this is the result of cargo-culting Steve Jobs' personality, without the corresponding vision.

Ans they keep getting it wrong. It wasn't his abusive personality, but his turtleneck that was behind his success, Just like how a great suit commands respect.

As a funny side note, having just one outfit to wear everyday eliminates the cost of that decision, giving more resources to other decisions. I believe Einstein did something similar simply because he wanted to focus his energies on the interesting stuff.

It's truly trivial to select clothing to wear during the day. If someone told me that they were 'saving resources' by wearing the same thing most of the time I think I would laugh in their face. I have to think it was just some personal branding on Jobs part, as in Everytime you see the dude he's 'the same'/consistent, depending on how you interpret that.

It's only trivial if you either genuinely don't care about what you wear or actually like selecting clothes. If you do care about what you wear but don't like selecting clothes, I can see why it would annoy you.

I feel the same way about washing dishes. I care about having clean dishes but I really don't like washing dishes. Even now with a dishwasher, I get annoyed having to hand-wash the dishes that aren't dishwasher-safe.

> It's only trivial if you either genuinely don't care about what you wear

In my case it's jeans and a t-shirt, clean jeans are piled next to clean t-shirts, I work my way down both piles until there is one of each then I put the entire laundy basket through the wash and re-pile them.

Unless it's a special event or a meeting I really don't care, jeans and a t-shirt is fine for day to day wear and one t-shirt is much the same as another.

It tends to be the picking out and maintaining a wardrobe of clothes that takes the effort for most people I think, not the actual choosing of shirt and pants in the morning. Of course, billionaire CEOs could easily just hire wardrobe consultants to handle that for them - and I'm sure many do - but some don't care, beyond just being presentable. And so they wear basically the same thing every day.

I dunno, man.

Clothing choices are a pretty big stressor for my SO and by extension me.

That always struck me as lame. If someone that well off wants to eliminate that decision, then just have a professional clothes person create clothing matches. 'A' goes with 'A'. 'B' goes with 'B'.

What it really is, is someone making a statement about how important their decisions are.

Lots of well off people still wear interesting clothing.

It sounds like more of an ASD symptom. Having routines and being unable to break them. I have mild ASD and often wear the same clothes/copies of the same stupid free startup tshirt for no real reason other than subconsciously I hate change. I also really haven't bought new clothes for years due to it being too much change to handle. I do make sure they are clean when I wear them tho!

He did hire a professional -- to design his daily uniform.


I wear a collared shirt and black pants to work every day, but the shirts are different colours. Frankly, my fashion sense isn't great but I look decent in a nice collated shirt and my wife does have a great sense of style (heck, she makes a dork like me look good, I'm always in awe of this ability - it's like a superpower!) so this makes complete sense to me.

I think these people apply the same principle to many other decision making processes in their lives, not just picking clothes, which is very visible hence everyone talks about. I guess saving on clothes is small but many little things add up quickly.

> That always struck me as lame.

That's bullshit. Wearing the same outfit added some mystic to Steve Jobs. It may not work on the public persona of every CEO but it obviously did for Jobs.

It's a great idea. I have a dozen of the same shirt in different colors, like red, blue, green, black. When folding, I roll together a shirt, underwear, and pair of socks. Likewise I make gym bundles - shirt, shorts, socks, and a wash cloth for the shower.

I still get to make a decision about which color shirt I'm going to wear that day, but don't need to think about even reaching for socks, since they're already in the shirt roll.

Nice. I switched to the solid colors shirt and slacks outfit a year ago. This sounds like a good improvement to the process. Those that scoff at it -- I went from wasting about 1hr to now spending about 20 min in the morning "getting ready". 40 minutes every day is a good chunk of time:


(admittedly the outfit choosing part was only about 5 of those minutes, but still a good chunk of time over 5 years)

edit: oh yeah, I don't even choose a color. I just line them up ROYGBV.

"As a funny side note, having just one outfit to wear everyday eliminates the cost of that decision, giving more resources to other decisions."

Recommended. I have a "uniform" that I wear[1][2] that works very well for me across different weather, places and events. I established it about ten years ago and have reaped quite a return from that initial investment.

Now, in addition to my default "uniform" I also have codified what I wear the rest of the time into 2-3 different other[3] "uniforms" that are better optimized for a few different situations. I hope to get at least 10 years out of these investments.

[1] Jeans, Next Level poly/cotton vintage t-shirt, long sleeved patagonia capilene 2 (black). Running shoes.

[2] Since I have at least 10 of each item, I always have something clean to wear.

[3] Casual warm, casual cold, manual labor.

It's less that they don't have to pick the clothes. And more that they don't give a shit (about variation in style.)

This is one of the things I really enjoyed about going to war in the Army: You can go for a couple of weeks in the same clothes without showering and nobody harps on you for it.

The black turtleneck didn't work so well for Elizabeth Holmes. Maybe it's a guy thing.

Kudos to Larry for recognizing it was time to do the right thing and remove Tony. In this day and age, that sort of courage is pretty rare.

Do no evil indeed.

That seems like a low standard for courage. Larry Page is the CEO of Google (Alphabet). He can fire pretty much anyone he wants, including (and especially) the CEO of a company he acquired. Firing an asshole seems like the reasonable thing to do, not courageous.

But let's be real for a moment -- the guy was probably not fired because he's a prick. Who knows the reason, but ultimately Alphabet is a public company that demands results (and returns) from assets (companies) it invests in (acquires). My hunch is that Nest (and/or it's subsidiaries) were not delivering, and the CEO is ultimately responsible.

It probably didn't help that the guy is an asshole, but let's not pretend that Larry Page walked through the Nest offices like a white knight, sensed a "negative energy", interviewed the sad-looking office manager, and determined the CEO was "damaging to company morale" and therefore MUST be replaced.

Page is the CEO of the one of the largest and most important publicly traded companies in the world. He has a legal and fiduciary responsibility to do right by shareholders. If the Nest CEO was putting up numbers, he'd still have a job, period, asshole or saint.

I swung by a wrong address the other day and it turned out to be a Nest office. It was shut down and completely empty, door locked and nobody inside. (I was hoping someone there might direct me to the place I was looking for). It was a sizable office building. Probably not their main office, but I'm sure it housed a bunch of people at one point.

Nest actually recently moved....there are about 6 new buildings over two campuses, all in use.

There are plenty of other fire-able offenses that even CEO's aren't immune to. Being an asshole isn't one, but you can't just say that if he was performing well, he'd never be fired.

>>but you can't just say that if he was performing well, he'd never be fired.

In that case (Tony being fired despite performing well), Larry (the firing knight/king) would be an asshole.

If he was performing well in terms of "putting up numbers", but treating his (and Larry's) employees terribly to do it, firing him would still in my opinion be the right move, and would certainly not make Larry an asshole.

I agree. Sadly these days, performing well is almost invariably defined in terms of "putting up numbers". The issue of treatment of employees comes far later (and far meeker) than the issue of making profit for the shareholders.

And, excuse me for saying that, that's why you're not a CEO of such a large company.

Consider these alternate (admittedly extreme) realities:

A. CEO is an asshole, but manages to bring in $1M/employee in revenue for a company with 500 employees.

B. CEO is a nice guy, but doesn't manage to bring in enough revenue and has to fire 250 of 500 employees.

In reality A, those people who don't think they are paid enough for the abuse, will leave, as they should. In reality B, the choice of who leaves and stays is almost random.

What you say is that firing a reality A CEO is "the right move". The problem is you're extremely likely to get either a reality B CEO, or an asshole with reality B revenue. HP's history since Carly Fiorina would give you a good case study.

So, from almost anyone's perspective, armchair generals excepted, it is NOT the right move.

Obviously I'm not a CEO of a Google-scale company. I am a CEO of a small software company, fwiw. But it doesn't really matter. You may be right that choosing not to allow employees to be treated like garbage would be a poor financial decision in some cases. I would still classify it as the right decision, but I can see there being an argument there. That said, there would be many, many highly qualified applicants to a position like CEO of Nest, and it would surprise me if it wasn't possible to find someone who was both a) at least as competent as the outgoing CEO, and b) not abusive to employees. In that case, it would also be a (potentially huge) financially beneficial move as well.

Edit: oh, and to my original point - in no scenario I can think of would firing someone for abusing their employees or co-workers make one an "asshole".

There seems to be a common problem that many of us never-will-be-CEOs have.

We don't act like sociopaths and put profits and duties towards boards before people.

Of course. Neither would I (act like a sociopath or ever be CEO of Google or anything 10% of its size).

But we should not be ignoring the reality, which is that many CEOs are sociopaths (as are many successful politicians). Larry Paige is not, as far as I can tell, a sociopath, but because he does actually have to report to shareholders, he is unlikely to fire someone like Tony Fadell for mistreating his employees as long as he delivers. Fadell didn't, and that's why he's out -- not because of how he treated his employees.

> The problem is you're extremely likely to get either a reality B CEO, or an asshole with reality B revenue.

You do propose HP as a case study, but why is it "extremely likely" to lead to that negative outcome?

Also, isn't it possible for a "nice guy" CEO to also bring in high revenue?

I don't think "nice" necessarily equates with "ineffective" in a CEO (for some definitions of "nice").

Because, to quote Sturgeon, "90% of everything is crud", and that includes CEO candidates.

Reality C is far more common - CEO is an asshole and clueless about running a profitable business. Because they're too busy and distracted by self-important posturing and/or outright fraud to make good decisions.

Competent assholes are far less common than incompetent assholes.

There's a bizarre myth that being an asshole somehow correlates with business competence.

But that doesn't take any account of the large number of asshole CEOs who are crash-and-burn fuck ups.

i was there when Marwan was at Motorola Mobility(Home). He is no leader. He never tried to understand any product or road map. He had no vision. His monthly townhall had generic corporate BS filled presentations with no real meaning. He was there for one purpose and one purpose only, to sell the division. He was Larry's go to guy to get rid of things.

Looking from far away and from previous experience, it seems like Google has decided move into a different direction. They want to get rid of NEST.

If anyone is expecting Marwan to be the leader and build NEST business, then you couldn't be further from the truth.

Interesting. I wouldn't be surprised if they want to get rid of nest given the recent negative publicity from the former CEO all the way down to the product causing google employees to post negative reviews and update policies causing backlash.

This is one of their big AI-driven products. I would be surprised if this is part of a larger AI draw down -- that deep learning wasn't up for this type of task. I would also be a little surprised that they would get rid of an "AI enhanced" product given their recent push towards AI.

Arguably, the time to do the right thing was years ago, when Tony was abusing his employees and Nest was making no money other than what Dropcam was making (meaning that buying Dropcam instead of Nest would have made vastly more sense).

Yes, but hindsight is 20/20. The only decisions you can make are the ones in front of you - and Larry made the right one here.

Companies don't usually buy early stage companies based on their current revenue (which was a drop in the bucket compared to Google's total revenue), but the long term vision and leadership team. Regardless of what eventually happened, at the time Google purchased Nest, Tony was a seasoned executive who had lead a large division and many highly successful products at Apple.

This may have been impossible depending on his contract. It's worth pointing out this is two years and three months after nest was acquired.

Nobody knows what actually happened here, and even if he was asked to leave it's very strange to call that "courage". I don't even know what the last sentence is supposed to mean.

Are there any solid indicators that Fadell was asked to leave? He'll still be working with Alphabet.

I already knew that Fadell was a jerk, but apparently he's delusional as well. Via http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-03/flying-goo...:

"I don’t know why I feel this way, but between working closely with Bill Campbell, working closely with Steve Jobs and watching a lot of my mentors pass on, unfortunately, I feel like I bear this responsibility now. There’s a few of us who are keepers of that knowledge. It’s almost our responsibility to be able to continue that way of thinking, that way of working. Expect excellence, respect excellence, drive hard, change things, don’t accept the status quo, push yourself, push the people on your team harder than they could ever imagine, and they will do more than they could have ever imagined."

You gotta love these incompetent execs, who have taken nothing away from Steve Jobs' legacy except "be an asshole". Tony, listen: Steve Jobs succeeded in spite of being a massive douche, because he was a genius who essentially invented new product categories, and made them work really really well. You, on the other hand, stuck networking interfaces in common household appliances, usually making them worse. Your psychopathic treatment of your employees gains you nothing in that case.

Apparently, as keeper of the secret knowledge, Fadell's next cross to bear is the smart Go-kart. Y'know, for kids.


Expect excellence, respect excellence, drive hard, change things, don’t accept the status quo.

Hopefully he applies his brilliant insight to adding collision avoidance to bumper cars. That'll make the sport really fun.

Thank you for giving me a super example of a bad requirement - "This requirement is the equivalent of adding collision avoidance to a bumper car"

Jeez, Bill Campbell taught people to be nice! He has stories of sending abusive execs home to calm down.

Abusive? Maybe, sending fired up execs home. Or an exec who had stepped over the line. But abusive, as in, a continuous process currently in motion? Sending them home and letting them come back the next day is not great, and sometimes a terrible business decision on par with letting aggressive sexual harassers come back the next day.

Signed, Someone who has had a boss throw chairs at people

If someone throws a chair at me, I will fuck them up. I don't care what their paygrade is or what authority they think they have.

Signed, someone who is normally calm, reserved and respectful.


I'll be putting all guesses into my never_work_here.txt file and then I'll respond to them all at once.

+1 to this. I only met him once, but even in that he greatly impressed me with his humanity and humility. I can completely imagine Bill holding people to high expectations, but in a generous and affirmative way.

Working under a jerk for a very long time can also teach you to be a jerk. Being a jerk for a very long time is what makes you feel normal.

There is this multiplier vs. diminisher comparison. A lot of people originally start out as multipliers but having worked under diminishers makes them forget or never realize what gifts their original talents could bring about.

Sometimes you don't have to work under them, just with them. And they can be people in an influential team. For me that was many years ago where I was abused one too many times by someone I considered a friend. There's no excuse, but I turned into a jerk - and years later I recognised this failure in my personality.

I have to work very hard not to be that person nowadays. I think I largely succeed, and my current job isn't that well paid or require deep skills, but I'm happier with myself.

It's not easy realising you are a part of the reason the system is rotten. Often, even if you do acknowledge it, you aren't part of that system so you have to bring that hard earned and lived experience to the next organisation. It's worth it, but it's a pity it often takes being outside the system to realise it, and an even bigger pity when you realise it whilst in the system but then find it impossible to change...

I've been in a similar situation where the boss man is a jerk - and it was destroying the whole team

me and other managers under him hated this but we still ended up doing the same as him. his requirements for reporting made us pass the same onto the team etc..

in the end me and another manager decided it was enough and started protecting our teams from the boss and treating them like humans.

it was a big learning for me that culture has to be fought for and its slides into a shit place pretty quickly if you dont defend it.

lots of other managers left and good staff, and ultimately the boss moved on. I left a few year ago, but everyone remarks on how much better it all became once we started defending our team.

so maybe we should acknowledge that some bosses are bad people and that we need to stand up to them just like any other kind of bully

[edits: language]

To a degree I think I did stand up for my colleagues. I brought in the Helpdesk guy, who was my old colleague from Epson days and in a strange twist of fate was actually my boss early in my career. I never needed to manage him, just protect him from some of the crap that fell his way because he was new. And the other guy was fully self managing and whilst I was technically his manager for about a week till the new boss came in, he got in with what was needed and showed such astute vision and planning that frankly I found all I would have done was get in his way if I'd "supervised" him. So I just asked him periodically how things were going, listened to his ideas over lunch, encouraged him and asked only a few questions; he just got everything done and even had a vision for where IT should be that I was pleased largely synced up with where I wanted things to go.

The new boss they brought in didn't listen to anyone, insisted on us doing useless things, broke all the critical Qlikview dashboards, prevented us from automating anything, took copious notes about things that I already knew about and that were largely unimportant, undermined the three of us to the CEO and caused me to burn out so badly that it took me over 6 months to get a new job.

So I defended my team partially by allowing them to come to me for advise, which was largely to ride it out and let the guy make his mistakes. All three of us tried to advise the fool that the things he was doing was literally destroying the business, but when I did 21 days straight with no break, leading to the start of a solution I could have implemented in 3 days max that would have not only fixed the massive breakages he caused in reporting but also automated them and reduced total manual handling, but was then told that a technical change I had done (add a synthetic foreign key to a table!) was completely out of order and something he and the project manager were going to discuss with the CEO about, I took a deep breath, excused myself from their meeting and then wrote my letter of resignation.

The CEO accepted my resignation and told me to leave immediately on full pay, then 6 weeks later my old manager stuffed the entire system so badly there was no way of fixing the mess (he deleted all my reports, I assume because they made him look bad...) and he resigned.

Last week that same CEO was fired for gross incompetence. They are apparently looking at the books very closely, but it rather looks like the accounts sent to ASIC are quite possible wrong. That's a big no-no and if bad enough ASIC may decide to prosecute.

Sometimes bad bosses screw over good people and even worse bosses back them. Eventually though, if you screw over every good person them as a manager they fail, and fail hard. And they normally have the hide yo look surprised when nobody is upset for them when they have left!

"There’s a few of us who are keepers of that knowledge. It’s almost our responsibility to be able to continue that way of thinking, that way of working."

Uhmmm ... the line of thinking that has your smoke detector talking to remote servers and dealing with a social layer (logins, smart apps, etc.) ?

That line of thinking is a cancer. It's a scourge on all of us that needs to be stamped out wherever we see it.

A pox on him and his house!

You really put that in the right perspective for me. I've always thought of Jobs as a sociopath, but I also thought it was because of his demeanor that his employees created such amazing things.

No. You are right - he succeeded despite being a douche.

>[Steve Jobs] was a genius who essentially invented new product categories

What product categories did Steve/Apple invent? All of their major breakthroughs (iPod, iPhone, iPad) were already existing product categories but Apple just made them right / what customers wanted. Correct me if I'm wrong.

That's just semantics.

"Made them right / what customers wanted" covers so much ground for those products, it's fair to say they were first in a new category of product.

For example, "smart phone" means "phone that works like an iPhone", more or less.

I would vote for mobile internet.

Yes, Blackberry had a smart(ish) phone. But it was really just a mobile email phone. Apple was the first phone manufacturer to provide a full featured, no compromises mobile internet browsing experience.

I would then add the whole mobile app store concept. Blackberry's version was really nothing much.

Nah, he borrowed/stole this too from others(his words, JFGI:artists+borrow+steal+jobs).


Bill Campbell: Maker of Silicon Valley Assholes.

For a company whose primary product is/was the Nest Thermostat, I've found they have been terrible at innovation and keeping up with competition. The product has been virtually unchanged for the last 3-4 years. What have they been up to?

I switched to an Ecobee3 system and found it was far superior in many ways. Alexa integration, remote sensors (for actual temperature measurements in rooms), easier install and compatibility if you don't have power going to thermostat, better wifi, touchscreen interface.

With Google Home coming I wonder what this means for Nest. Maybe it will be fully absorbed into Google?

I have been incredibly frustrated with how they acquired Dropcam and completely killed not only the soul of the company, but real features the existing devices already had.

The setup process for the Dropcam was absolutely magical. You plug a new one in, open the app and it would configure the camera via Bluetooth 4.0. You could then go back in and change WiFi settings by simply being near enough for the Bluetooth 4.0 connection.

Then Nest bought them, and completely removed that feature. They issued a firmware update that made it so now the camera that used to have this wonderful feature now requires me to plug it into my computer's USB and execute some janky app from a flash drive. Of course, if you buy one of their new devices, you a setup process somewhat similar to the original Dropcam. But existing customers are out of luck. In fact, the Dropcam Pro included a 1080P sensor but they did not enable it for various reasons. When Nest released their flavor of the camera, they enabled 1080P, but not for existing Dropcam Pro customers.

The DVR functionality is inferior too.

I wish I could get a refund. I personally feel like it is a bait and switch scenario. :(

I haven't setup any of the new Nest cameras, they REMOVED bluetooth? Completely non-sensical.

The new Nest app on the phone is just now, finally reaching feature parity years and years later and its still not fully there. The 1080p debacle is terrible as well, they also compress the hell out of video now, it feels far worse than when I first got my cameras years ago (presumably to save on the storage space I'm paying quite a bit for).

It's funny, you rarely know the moment a company goes off the rails but I know exactly when it happened for me, for Dropcam.

I was out to dinner a year or so ago and all of us who had Dropcams got emails from nest about needing to migrate to nest accounts, and found that:

A) our access to our camera's was completely cut-off B) the migration process was completely broken, at first we thought just on mobile but it still didn't work when I got back to a computer, it took a few DAYS before I could migrate my account and access my cameras again.

This was terrible, I was 1000 miles from home and unable to access any of my cameras, I completely lost faith in the company at that moment and I know all of my friends did too.

Bluetooth LE for setup was not removed from the camera. Nest Cams and Dropcam Pro's can still be set up via Bluetooth LE via the Nest app.

Setting up cameras was removed from the (un-maintained) Dropcam App, to encourage users to migrate to the Nest app, which has more ongoing development.

The video on cameras is no more compressed than it ever was. I know it can feel worse, but nothing has changes there.

(source: I work at nest)

Whoa, this must be relatively recent. As recently as 6 months ago, the instructions on your website explicitly said that if you had a Dropcam you had to plug into USB. I desperately tried to find another option to no avail.

Can you point me to it? AFAIK, It's always been there.

There is a distinction between original Dropcam/Dropcam HD setup and Dropcam Pro setup -- may be part of the confusion? Dropcam Pro had BLE setup, previous versions did not and require USB setup.

iirc there were some iot webcams with publicly hacked streams up on a website. either way, removing bt had to be security related.

that said, it is a core component, and basically the innovation/disruption if you even want to call it that, that the conpany was providing. i mean without a clean wireless interface, its basically a webcam/thermostat ect on a hone depot timer

> iirc there were some iot webcams with publicly hacked streams up on a website. either way, removing bt had to be security related.

You can't feasibly stream someone's IoT camera from their home via BT; any kind of hack like that happens over Wi-Fi or Ethernet connections.

You use the BT to get it to use YOUR (the attacker's) wifi.

At that range a malicious actor would be better served by attacking your actual wifi network.

You can still set up using Bluetooth LE from the Nest app. Your existing account can be used to log in to Nest App, and your cameras will be there. https://nest.com/support/article/FAQs-about-moving-from-the-...

This is interesting. I have had Nest thermostats for several years, and overall I think they're great, but I have definitely felt the need for remote sensors (our upstairs thermostat in particular is in a really bad spot). A couple of months ago I seriously considered getting an Ecobee, but I read a bunch of reviews that complained of stuff like unresponsive touchscreen, bad UI, etc. The main thing I love about the Nest is that the UX is very simple, and works well. Anyone in the house can use it without instructions, and it feels like a thermostat, not a slow Android device or something.

Did you find those to not be issues? Definitely most of the reviews were good, so maybe it's just isolated people having problems. But I couldn't tell if it was that, or more that people either aren't as picky about UX as I am, or they didn't have another point of comparison... I'm very open to re-considering them if someone can convince me this stuff is a non-issue, because the remote sensor would certainly make our system work better.

I had same reservations as you before I bought my first Ecobee3. I probably read same negative reviews as you. However the thermostat worked very well for me, without all the issues that I've read. I bought two more over the year. In terms of UI and ease of use - I prefer a thermostat with which I don't need to fiddle after I program it. Ecobee3's programming and automatic features worked well for my family in two zones. Kitchen zone (used mostly by my wife) was impossible to program to her satisfaction but integration with Amazon Echo solved the issue.

Has not been an issue for me (I do have a second generation). I believe there was a firmware fix sometime down the line. Actually that is another plus, they have been better about updates than Nest. My Nest actually stopped working on more than one occasion after a software update.

My thermostats are in areas that are not indicative of the actual room temperature at all so the sensors are useful for me. I don't have a more complicated setup with dampers to divert air to a specific room, but that could be a cool addon if they made it compatible.

I've had an ecobee 3 since November, and the UX has been very responsive and intuitive to me. My wife can use it well enough to set manual away and temperature overrides, which is pretty much all that you might need to do after you've set it up. The android and ios apps are nothing special, basically just a clone of the thermostat's UI itself, but they work. The web app is very good, and the graphs are very nice and useful, including the ability to export all data as a csv. I've never used a Nest so I don't know how it compares but I'm quite happy with the ecobee.

should check us out - got your remote sensors covered :) https://flair.co/products/puck

Looks cool, but nowhere on your product page does it say it's compatible with Nest.

Its on the FAQ but not the product page. Working through the official works with nest stuff behind the scenes.

I have the honeywell 9000 with remote sensors. While getting the internet connectivity was a little odd (you need this weird redlink device to bridge the devices for web management) They work and are remotely managed extremely easily.

They're not 'machine learning' thermostats, but they work predictably, reliably well. Cheaper than a nest, too..

+1 For Ecobee. After wanting a "smart" thermostat for some time and researching and researching nothing really blew my socks off. But the Ecobee was the closest one to impressing me. So I finally pulled the trigger for downstairs. It's been doing great and I love the features. So now it's time to put one upstairs.

If you are thinking of the Ecobee, do it! :)

SDGE is offering free Ecobee installs. Check with your local electric company, they might be offering it for free too. We got two units installed and really love it.

They actually give you the unit for free, or just the installation labor?

Everything. Free units, install and configuration. Additionally, during high consumption periods, SDGE will offer incentives if you shut your AC. It is super convenient to do this even if you are not at home.

The problem with temperature sensors is where you put it... if you put it upstairs and run that temp down to say 78 in the summer.. the rest of your house (especially the basement) is an icebox.

That's the problem with so called 'lazy zoning'.

However that being said, if you want something like this and don't have an ecobee, SmartThings starter kit comes with multiple sensors that read temperature.

From talking to my colleague with an ecobee, that's not the point. If the ecobee detects a big swing between the two sensors, it'll run the fan, but not the heat/cool. That balances the rooms. It makes sense.

Yeah, I get that. I was speaking generally about what that does. That's how Ecobee works, but even still I'm sure it's not perfect. (I haven't tried it myself, just similar types of setups).

I guess, hardware is far more complex than writing the next Twitter. Plus, if you are bought by another company, expect product development to stall due to changes and people who don't like changes.

Except the parent was specifically referring to a competing thermostat.

My folks have an Ecobee and if I didn't have a Nest already, I might consider it. The remote sensors are a huge plus.

Can the Ecobee3 be installed without the dreaded C wire? edit: Nope. You lose fan control.

The Nest cannot, well it CAN, but you lose fan control in the process making it worthless. I never understood why no thermostat supports alternative power, considering tons of property would be an easy installation without the rarely available C wire.

Quick shout out for the Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Touchscreen Thermostat. It too requires the C wire, costs the same as Nest, but has a much better touch interface than the Nest while providing the same-ish automatic functionality.

You don't lose fan control with the ecobee3 Power Extender Kit. Also, the C wire is not rarely available, basically any house since the early 90s will have one already wired up, and any house that has upgraded hvac unit in say the last 15 years will have the capacity to install one by running a wire to the mainboard.

> You don't lose fan control with the ecobee3 Power Extender Kit.

Read page 12 of their guide. The PEK requires additional connectors that not all systems even have. A lot of people will lose fan control, just like the Nest.

> Also, the C wire is not rarely available, basically any house since the early 90s will have one already wired up

Our house was built in 1998, doesn't have it, a coworker's house was built in 2005 and had to get it installed for their Nest ($120 callout + $120 in time), the in-laws returned a Nest because their home from roughly 2001-02 lacked it. Where are you getting this information? There's nothing in building codes that requires running the C wire, so builders will only run it if the thermostat requires it and most included ones do not.

> any house that has upgraded hvac unit in say the last 15 years will have the capacity to install one by running a wire to the mainboard.

Running wires behind walls isn't trivial in an already built home. Least of all if you're going up two to three floors.

My house and all houses in my development were built in 1995 and have one. Most programmable thermostats recommend using a C wire(or batteries, but if they're being put in a new development they generally put the C wire in), and programmable thermostats have been "strongly recommended"/mandatory in many states for new developments for quite a while.

Also have a relative in an older development that used the PEK and he can control his fan independently of the hvac just fine... I've actually more commonly heard of some control boards that mess with the fan if you use the C wire rather than the power extension kit, since the control board basically fakes the C wire using the G wire as the Nest does if you don't have a C wire. The PEK works differently.

It has nothing at all to do with programmable Vs. non-programmable. All of the homes I mentioned above, including ours, have a programmable thermostat.

You don't need a C wire for a programmable thermostat. The other channels provide power, the C wire just provides more. It is useful if you want to run a color LCD screen or WiFi. If you have a thermostat with a black & white calculator-like LCD, it likely doesn't have a C wire running to it.

> I've actually more commonly heard of some control boards that mess with the fan if you use the C wire rather than the power extension kit, since the control board basically fakes the C wire using the G wire as the Nest does if you don't have a C wire.

What? That would burn out thermostats. How would the control board know to pass 24Vac through a low voltage line? Can you link anything to this "common thing" that control boards do? Sorry but I'm extremely skeptical of that, it doesn't even make sense from a thermostat signal point of view, since they'd just assume you would run C if C was required during installation rather than doing the hack you're suggesting here.

The reality is that C isn't required on almost any included thermostat, programmable or simple. Good installers run the C but terminate it, bad installers just don't run the unneeded C. I've never heard or read about a first party control board which acts like a bypass kit out of the box, and I don't even understand the point.

House built in '99/00 by a large builder: No C wire.

With that said, the Ecobee that I bought off eBay included the PEK. It required a few hours up in the attic but was easier than I thought it was going to be.

"so builders will only run it if the thermostat requires it and most included ones do not."

From what i can tell, this is wrong. I asked 30 builders in 3 states (a mailing list), and every single one of them basically agreed with the statement that they have put them in all homes they've built since 1990.

The truth is, AFAIK, the largest homebuilders in the US do it as a matter of policy.

The building code does not require running low voltage wiring (including RG6) anywhere, either, but most do it nowadays.

I really think you are wrong about this :)

Can you link to the mailing list? I'd like to read the replies.

A lot of houses have the thermostat wire run for it but the installer just cut it off to hide it.

In my old house from 1950s the furnace had the terminal so I just ran a new wire. Easy if you have some fishtape or something similar. Kind of depends how far your thermostat is from your furnace though.

I had two Honeywell Smart thermostats get fried by power surges. Because the design of these 'smart' thermostats is just stupid.

It's wrong for any of these thermostats to be using these wires for power. That is not the purpose of those wires. For that matter, it's shit engineering to require the thermostat be mounted on the wall hooked up to those wires like your old thermostat. The purpose of those wires, with their 24V AC, is to toggle relays. They could just as easily be done directly _at the furnace_, or just have a low-power battery powered radio module on the relay wires, with a WiFi or other wireless receptor talking to your sensors elsewhere, and with an app on your phone or tablet to control it.

Nest is an absolutely terrible design that everyone else copied. Its terrible design is crap for installation, customer support, and maintenance. It's needlessly complex.

But it looks nice?

What relay does a C wire toggle? From what I've read its only purpose is to provide a continuous stream of power. There's nothing in the spec that forbids using the R and C wires for power, in fact that is their stated purpose.

Now, these bypass kits or similar, are a little hacky. But you're talking about the C wire itself being so, which just isn't the case. IF you have one available that is exactly what it is design to do.

But, yes, I'd prefer USB at the thermostat.

Wifi is really hard to run constantly on battery. Honeywell makes the Lyric which has power stealing (charges when the equipment runs) so it doesn't require a C-wire.

Or, you can also install a wire saver: http://www.amazon.com/Honeywell-THP9045A1023-WireSaver-Prest...

I, too, have been wondering what the hell they have been up to. Their most recent thermostat upgrade was kind of a joke.

"We should all be disrupters!": I really don't like reading bullshit like this in the middle of a blog post. Anyway, I hope this announcement means that Nest employees will have a better work-life balance, it looked pretty terrible from the recent articles posted on HN.

I have been cringing every time I see/hear the word "disrupt" (in its various forms) for a couple years now. In pretty much all cases, the more often a given person uses that word, the more vapid I come to think they are.

"disrupt" is for startups/VC what "beautiful" is for Javascript/CSS frameworks.

and "delightful" for user experience

"Trying to mass-produce [delight] and inject it into interactions is like forcing waiters to wear 37 pieces of flair on their uniforms." http://www.fastcodesign.com/3042849/delightful-interaction-d...

It will be beautiful when we disrupt the use of the word delight.

"elegant" for libraries

Delightfully beautiful elegant disruption.

truly, the worst of all

Amen to both of these.


Our coworking space did not get your memo: http://www.bespokesf.co/

Don't forget 'a joy to work with'.

Sounds like a line from a new episode of HBO's Silicon Valley.

also "elegant".

simple, clean, lightweight

"A broken sewer pipe is disruptive, but that doesn't mean you want it". ~~ Paraphrased slightly. Source: I don't remember exactly

Can I add "hackers" and "hustlers" to the cringe list please?

Not on Hacker News you can't.

I'm with you 100%. Both terms just feel shallow.

Of all the industries/technologies that need to push people to their wits end, I just don't see how it applies to a thermostat company... I mean, all the technology for it is already easily available practically off the shelf (mobile phone technology). I can give a pass to the guys that were creating the IIe, the iPhone, rockets and electric cars... But seriously, what is the big challenge here. Why can't people execute this product in fairly short order working 8-5?

I love that he put "leaving the next" in quotes. He was leading that company down the drain and got fired, they just dont want to make it look that way. They have had so much bad press the past year, from nest employees complaining of a hostile work environment to customers complaining about products being intentionally bricked. This news is shocking only in that it took this long to happen

Yeah I was laughing at the "it's never a perfect time to transition" and was thinking, well, when everyone hates you and wants you to leave is probably pretty close to a perfect time to leave.

Absolutely. When you're at a certain executive level, you no longer get fired, you get "asked to resign". No doubt Google was done with him.

You don't just get asked to resign, you get made an adviser for awhile and still paid! Tony will be an adviser for a set period of time and still collect a bunch of money, which will help him save face and probably prevent him from working for other tech companies for a specific period of time. My guess is that he will be an adviser for 1-2 years.

My guess is that this is a way for the non-compete agreement to be enforceable until enough things get fixed so Tony's knowledge about what is broken no longer matters.

How many times will he be on-site for advising?

Depending on the nature of the separation, Tony may never be at Google again. It really depends on if they left on semi-good terms or not. Tony probably won't be allowed the Nest team, but Larry may still value his opinions on where the products should go, even if Larry thinks that Tony is a poor manager.

Another recent example is Under Secretary Butch Blazer of the USDA. He "resigned" 3-weeks ago:


The press release conveniently leaves out the Office of Inspector General's investigation of Butch, his wife and his step-son regarding a marijuana investment promising $44 million in revenue. Nor the fraud, extortion and numerous scams by his step-son.

His step-son, Doug Fierro, is a "shaman"-


"No doubt"? Really? He's been there 2.5 years which is longer than most founders stay on after acquisition. It's certainly possible he was fired. Maybe even likely. But I certainly have some doubt.

He's an "advisor". He has neither moved on to a more prestigious role in Google/Alphabet, nor has he started a new company (that he's announcing publicly), nor has he moved to a prestigious position elsewhere.

It's clear that he's been pushed out.

Curious why he would need to move to a more prestigious position? Most people realize by their 30s that prestige is a sucker's game; it's a way of inducing people to do things that aren't much fun and they wouldn't really want to do on their own, by lauding them with accolades from people they don't really care about.

Lots of people quit jobs and take some time before doing their next thing.

This is how it works at that level. You get paid to not make noise or give bad PR on the way out. (Too bad it doesn't trickle down to junior levels) In some cases the golden parachute is just ensure that people don't fight the change legally or otherwise. The good PR then allows them to get the next job.

I'm very surprised that word of Fadell's Jobs-in-training style didn't precede him. Was this behind his departure from Apple?

I would lol at someone who fired me expecting me to say it this way. If you fire me I have no further obligation to your doublespeak.

There's a lot of upside to saying it this way and really no downside except the dopamine hit of calling out the other party.

With this approach:

- He gets paid a lot of money to do nothing for a period of time.

- He exits "gracefully" from a perception standpoint (obviously any board considering hiring him in the future knows the backstory, but it is better than if Google were forced to fire him for gross negligence or something).

- Google minimizes impact to their stock price to the extent possible with this, since they want to preserve an image of having everything be copacetic and under control for the mass Main Street investors. Tony likely has plenty of their stock and thus a financial incentive to play along.

- Burning bridges is never a good strategy, and he and Larry are (were?) friends. Not a bridge I'd want to burn even if things didn't work out.

- The person that gets a company from Point A to Point B is often not the same person that gets a company from Point B to Point C. In all of this Tony may have recognized that (even if it was a tough lesson) and acknowledged he was not the best person for the job.

At lower-level/pay positions the stakes are much lower and it is much easier to conveniently leave a bad experience like this out of your resume, or paint it a different way. When the major media outlets cover your departure, ensuring every possible future employer knows the situation, you tend to play things a bit more strategically.

Not my style.

He'll also get nice pay for two years as a "special advisor", where he does nothing and gets paid his old salary. I'd write whatever blog post was fed to me for that gig.

You don't say it for them. You say it for yourself. You have nothing to gain by going around telling everyone you've been fired.

And you get to keep vesting. There's $$$ in it for you.

Honesty. Transparency. Accepting your mistakes and failures.

All qualities Tony Fadell is known for. Right?

People that get fired tend to not want to say that they got fired and prefer this sort of doublespeak.

That's why they usually couple it with some sort of a cash payoff / severance package for playing nice.

Okay, so Fadell is out, following reports that Nest is a mess.

Verily, the life sciences arm has similar CEO problems: https://www.statnews.com/2016/03/28/google-life-sciences-exo...

Boston Dynamics and Schaft are being sold off, and who knows if the rest of Rubin's robot companies are on the auction block.

And while carmakers, rideshare companies and Autonomous AI companies are all forming alliances in varying capacities, Alphabet's self driving car project dance card remains conspicuously empty.

Things at Alphabet are not looking good.

> And while carmakers, rideshare companies and Autonomous AI companies are all forming alliances in varying capacities, Alphabet's self driving car project dance card remains conspicuously empty.

Except for the Ford partnership [1] and a strategic investment in Uber [2].

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/28/business/ford-and-google-t...

[2] http://techcrunch.com/2013/08/22/google-ventures-puts-258m-i...

Your first link refers to the Self-driving Coalition for Safer Streets which also includes Volvo, Uber and Lyft, and it's just a lobby group.

The second link, about Google Ventures investment in Uber is unrelated to the self driving car program. Uber has, in the meantime, acquired a substantial portion of the Carnegie Mellon robotics department [1] and has siphoned off ~100 engineers from Bing Maps [2], which to me implies that for whatever reason Uber wants to be as independent from Google as possible.

To graduate from a science project to a revenue generating business, Google needs a major manufacturing partnership, and while they've been seeking such a partnership for years now, no formal announcement has been made beyond a deal with FCA to outfit 100 Pacifica minivans with autonomous sensors. It was emphasized that Alphabet and FCA have no plans extending beyond those 100 vehicles [3].


[2] http://techcrunch.com/2015/06/29/uber-acquires-part-of-bings...

[3] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-google-selfdriving-idUSKCN...

>And while carmakers, rideshare companies and Autonomous AI companies are all forming alliances in varying capacities, Alphabet's self driving car project dance card remains conspicuously empty.

That seems to be mostly because even though many researchers in the field think that door-to-door Level 4 autonomy is decades out, Google is apparently uninterested in any intermediate steps. Which pretty much rules out any partnerships with automakers etc. who are interested in things they can sell in interesting commercial horizons.

The viability of door-to-door level 4 depends on which two doors you're talking about. Chris Urmson, the lead engineer will tell you that cross country, all weather level 4 might be 30 years out, but their Koala cars would be doing publicly accessible trials around Mountain View right now if it weren't for regulatory hang-ups.

Wow. I honestly never thought this would happen. Hopefully this means that the change in culture at Nest is real, and we can expect better innovation going forward. As a heavy Nest customer (thermostat, 2 protects and 5 cameras), I've been sorely disappointed over the last 2 years, and hopefully this means that my investment in their technology isn't for naught.

>I've been sorely disappointed over the last 2 years

I bought a thermostat about a year ago and I've been disappointed too. The marketing I read and a couple people I knew that worked there implied that new features were in the pipeline but since I've installed it I haven't seen a single substantive improvement in the experience.

I'm disappointed even with what I purchased, new features aside.

I have two sets of furnace/AC for my house and two Nest thermostats. My wifi access point when I installed it was downstairs, about 10 feet from the downstairs thermostat with nothing but air between the AP and the thermostat (I moved the AP around a bit too). The unit would not connect even though the upstairs unit connected without issue.

Worse, every time I tried to connect it, it would make me re"type" my wifi password. My password is around 30 characters long and contains a mixture of letters, numbers, and symbols. Entering a password on a Nest thermostat is absolutely terrible, which I kind of expect, and which is okay if you only have to do it ONCE. But I was trying to troubleshoot a problem with wifi and it wouldn't remember the password because it wasn't connecting... I ended up changing my wifi password temporarily until I could get it to connect and update, hoping the update would fix whatever the problem was.

That said, now that they're installed and connecting, they're fine, I guess. But the "wow" factor is pretty much over for me, and with what I've heard about the smoke alarms, I doubt I'll be buying another Nest product.

My wifi key is also insanely difficult. Spinning that wheel and pressing down on the face to select one of the characters is so annoying, you can easily get the character next to the one you intend. And the selector for the space character isn't obvious either. I had to reset mine 3 times, and enter that key each time. I refuse to do it again, that's how annoying it is to anyone who cares about decent wifi keys

Maybe that's because the isn't much room for temperature innovation?

How about things like the entire dataset that we have sent to Nest over the years? We only get access to the last 10 days worth, which is absolutely useless. I need year-over-year data, not just 1.5 weeks ago. Seriously, do these guys even use a Nest? Why have such an arbitrary restriction of data?

Turns out setting it to 72deg is a pretty effective strategy!

I prefer a more artisanal 71 degrees. Fahrenheit, naturally.

Mine stays at 77, any lower and the fan never shuts off.

Why? Well, Florida. And the fact that I'm on the 2nd floor of a multi-tenant building with poor insulation. The struggle is real

You both must be made out of money. I set mine to 65-68, depending on the time of day.

There are places in the US where it would cost money to set it to 65 and it's cheaper to set it to 77 (cough Phoenix cough).

We typically leave the thermostat at 79 or 80, and even then that's several hundred a month in AC.

If there's one thing I've learned it's not to cheap out on common life luxuries. I've actually gotten rid of any friends who thought it was worth the sacrifice of huddling with a blanket to save $50 a month. Especially when I was over their homes. Fuck that. Don't tout your own incapacities as wisdom.

I just wanted something with a prettier display and better programmability than the hidous LCD thing I had. That and being able to change/monitor remotely's enough.

As for future promised features, they're like campaign promises. Nothing to bet big on.

What changes are you hoping for in the experience? I think my Nest thermostats work great, and frankly I'd rather that they not muck with that in the name of "improvement." It's basically an appliance, and part of my house, and regular software changes would be a real annoyance (other than fixing bugs, of course). I'd rather they spend their energy on creating new products than on changing the already (IMHO) solid experience on the existing ones.

Stop dropping off the network randomly. They blame it on "crappy wifi vendors" not supporting 802.11 power save mode properly but I have it on word from support that Meraki is fully 802.11 compliant.

Would be nice to have optional different displays too. Seems like a silly thing, I know, but it would be nice if I could just setup the 'normal' display to show outside temp without having to go to the menu.

The biggest one for me: It regularly takes 10+ seconds for the app to load and connect to the thermostat. When it's faster for me to get up and walk to the thermostat than to use the app from another room that's an issue.

Another issue I have is that I can only schedule temps. Auto-away seems to recognize in about an hour that I've left for work, but Away state never shows on the schedule. I leave for work at the same time very morning, I'd like the thermostat to tell me when it thinks I've left so I can adjust it to the correct time and not heat/cool the house for an hour before it realizes I'm gone.

These are minor things, but I paid literally 10x as much as a regular programmable thermostat, I expect a premium experience.

A single app is really shitty. I would rather have an app for the cam and an app for the thermostat.

As I mentioned above, I want better and longer access to data so that I can do real comparisons like year over year data. Not just 10 days ago which is really stupid.

And how about a more stable app as well that doesn't crash?

Apple HomeKit support. I think it's absurd the Nest doesn't natively support it.

The camera is supposed to have an intercom feature. It still doesn't work. I read about this issue since before Dropcam sold to Nest.

Hmm I've had plenty of issues with my dropcams but the intercom has always seemed to work. I really, really wish they weren't stationary though. They're so incredibly expensive (far higher than similar products) and they can't even move which is very frustrating. In my opinion anyway.

I have two dropcams and the intercom has always worked great for me on both of them.

I wonder if the fact that he left a day after a lawsuit was filed was not a coincidence: https://www.theinformation.com/former-nest-employee-takes-ai...

From what I've read of this guy, this change is long overdue and hopefully a sign of better things to come (culture-wise and product-wise) at Nest.

That awkward balancing act they do between "I'm gone but don't be too scared I'm still here but really I'm gone" I mean this is like a sentence tennis match:

```Although this news may feel sudden to some, this transition has been in progress since late last year and while I won’t be present day to day at Nest, I’ll remain involved in my new capacity as an advisor to Alphabet and Larry Page. This will give me the time and flexibility to pursue new opportunities to create and disrupt other industries – and to support others who want to do the same – just as we’ve done at Nest. We should all be disrupters!

I will miss this company and my Nest family (although I’ll be around to provide advice and guidance and help the team with the transition), but I am excited about what’s coming next, both for Nest and for me.```

Is Marwan Fawaz also lebanese-american? Tony Fadell is, and Marwan's LinkedIn looks like he went to a high school in Lebanon. What are the odds!


Not sure why you are being down voted, unless people are reading some kind of undertone I'm not seeing.

I hope they aren't - I'm american/lebanese as well, hence noticing.

I couldn't find anything to confirm this, but as a Lebanese-American myself — I'd say from his name, looks, and speech I heard in a video on YouTube, he's probably Lebanese and possibly Syrian.

I wonder if this has to do with the internal problems at Nest[1][2].



I believe there was a 2 year vesting on stock or bonuses at Next. They got acquired around early 2014 so I'm sure that has something to do with it. I expect a whole bunch of others may leave depending on how the new CEO is.

I was at work the other day when I got a push notification that there was smoke upstairs from Nest protect. I left work immediately and arrived home to the smell of burning, an incense plug had been left in and was melting.

Nest saved me, the ROI for me is priceless. Thanks Tony, good luck in your next venture - learn from your mistakes.

He will remain as an "advisor" to Alphabet. That's an honorary position if I've ever heard of one.

Yep, definitely looks like a face-saving maneuver.

  <Tony> "Hey Lar I can at least call you every now and then still, right?"
  <Larry> "uh ok".
adds "Senior Advisor to Alphabet/Google" to LinkedIn profile

Well it has the word Senior in it, so it seems like an important position /s

So many people did this at one company I worked for that it became something of a joke for low-level employees to say they were "staying on as an advisor" when they left.

This will likely mean he gets to keep his invested shares.

invested shares or non-vested shares? (I'm assuming you mean the latter, and in that case you are right -- that will make a huge difference)

I wonder when Google will do a writedown on this deal? $3.2B seems like a lot to pay for a thermostat company.

Especially considering that their product is not at the forefront of smart thermostats. The learning capability is harmful if you have kids or live in colder climates. Nest works poorly with home automation solutions as well. Dropcam was a good product that didn't change since they were bought out. I am looking into other thermostats and I can't wait to switch.

It seems to me that Google caught a ride on the Nest hype train.

Out of academic curiosity, which product(s) is considered to be at the forefront of smart thermostats?

Probably depends on what you need the thermostat for. A home has a very different set of requirements than say the Burj Khalifa. And a warehouse or apartment complex might have their own very specialized requirements.

That said Honeywell has products that cover most of those bases at least acceptably. If you just want something for your house though EcoBee seems to be the device to get.

Not really an issue of bleeding-edge technology, but probably whomever owns the most relevant patents. Honeywell? Siemens?

How is the learning capability harmful?

At the risk of sounding completely ignorant, how hard is it to make a thermostat? I opened one up and it seemed to be a bit of mercury that completed a circuit.

Is slapping a UI and a "learning" system on that big of a deal? I can see how it's a useful product and might seem really cool, but it seems sort of simple to make. Sure, making physical products isn't as easy as software and all, but still, what am I missing?

You're not missing anything other than the ability to sell people on it.

I interviewed at Dropcam right before it was acquired, and it was clear that it was an amazing place. The team there was so solid.

I didn't realize until recently, but am not surprised to learn, that the people at Dropcam went on to found several interesting startups:

  - https://eero.com/
  - https://www.lily.camera/
  - https://claralabs.com/

previous (Feb) discussion about "Troubles at Nest": https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11105510

Tony and Elizabeth Holmes should team up to create a wifi-enabled device that regulates blood sugar for diabetics. It can be hidden in the collar of your turtleneck. And when it loses connectivity or misreads your glucose level, you get to meet Steve Jobs.

Just incredible: he used the word "journey" un-ironically.


Marwan Fawaz as new CEO. Anyone know much about him?

> Mr. Fadell will be succeeded by Marwan Fawaz, a former executive vice president of Motorola Mobility

> In the troubled Motorola acquisition, Mr. Fawaz led a financial bright spot, Motorola Home, a television set-top box business. He pared its product line, cut costs and oversaw its sale in 2013 for $2.35 billion to the Arris Group, a cable television equipment maker.

From the NY times article -


seems like we can reasonably expect him to come in swinging the axe again, then.

I think this should not be downvoted as people can learn a lot about someone's professional career by skimming through their LinkedIn profile.

Marwan Fawaz used to run Motorola Home. It didn't really have much to do with "Home" in the sense of Nest though.

Well TV Set Top Boxes are in the same bucket of "home appliances" for me.

Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think he was CEO for Motorola's Home division at some point.

He was an advisor for an analytics startup I used to work for. Really unimaginative and uninspiring. Zero vision. I was very surprised how he was appointed as an advisor (and got a good chunk of equity).

Man what I wouldn't pay to see some memes from the internal Google meme host right now.

As a happy Nester it's been sad to see...

As a former sad nester, I think this news is going to make your life much better.

I have never used a product like Nest. What is it like for those who are used to? I live in Barcelona and I never seen anyone using a product like that.

It's a thermostat with a digital display, and some learning capabilities that figure out how you usually manually adjust the temperatures based on your weekly routine. It can also detect when you're home or not, and adjust accordingly. You can also use your phone to adjust the temperature remotely. The idea is it'll dial down your energy usage better through intelligent management of your heating and cooling systems and a slick interface.

I think that what gets confusing for a lot of us from Europe is taht we don't generally have temperature control of our homes like that. There might be some kind of radiators for heating, but that's generally it.

Does anyone know of a good alternative to Nest products? I've never liked their marketing and this blog post doesn't do much to alleviate that feeling (even though he's on the way out, the tone remains).

I rather like my 20 year old super basic thermostat. It works. It doesn't require wifi. It doesn't consume any power whatsoever. It's never been bothered by bugs that magically turn my house into a sauna or a freezer. It was dirty cheap. It'll last forever.

Couldn't a smart thermostat end up being cheaper than dirt cheap if it saves you money in the long run?

If you're thinking of saving money, investing in insulation (ie, getting to R38+ in your attic, exterior walls, and also insualting under subflooring) would be a better win.

We're heavily insulated and don't even run the AC on 100 degree days.

I'd be far more interested in automating the combination of our whole-house-fan + windows/shades.

Unlikely. When you're buying a wifi-dependent, $300/unit thermostat, you're basically buying a device with a 5-6 year life. So you need to save $50/year to break even.

Meanwhile, an un-smart thermostat with a timer can be had at Home Depot for $25, and will achieve 80-90% of the savings assuming you have a typical schedule.

I also have an Ecobee3. I had come from a 2nd gen Nest. I will agree with others and say that the remote sensors are really nice. I've always had multi floor houses whose temperature differentials (between up and down) would border on 10F. Obviously I could adjust the temperature on the Nest from bed, but I found toward the end of my ownership (middle/end '14) that the service would be down every now and then and I couldn't communicate with my Nest. I haven't experienced this with the Ecobee yet. Another positive you can quickly see the weather forecast from the thermostat, which is great for when you're about to leave the house and don't want to whip out your phone.

On the downside, the Ecobee doesn't "feel" as high quality. The touchscreen shows finger prints, it has a plasticy feel and you don't have that nice orange or blue background color indicating whether it's cooling or heating (not a big deal). It also doesn't have the schedule learning system, but to be honest I would usually adjust the temps manually throughout the day anyway. It also doesn't have the automatic fan function after the AC has run, sort of an afterrun fan which helped continue to cool the house without the AC on.

In the end I wanted to try something different and so far I think it's met/exceeded my expectations. Just hope you have a C wire when you install! :)

If you are looking for a thermostat, I have heard good things about the Ecobee3. It can have several remote sensors around house, integrates with Smartthings and maybe just zigbee/zwave in general. I only got the Nest because of a great deal from a family member with an extra one. The downside is that is can be trickier to wire up. If you furnace is older, you may have to run an extra wire.

After 2 homes with Nest, I decided to try an Ecobee last December. I prefer the Ecobee.

1) Vacations: with the Ecobee, tell it when you'll be away (date/time range) and it will go into vacation mode. I travel often and I can add multiple vacations in advance. Not a complex feature and surprising Nest doesn't have this. With the Nest I have to keep tweaking my Away mode temps to ensure that it warms up when I return and doesn't just switch back to Away and stop heating (it can take hours to go from 50=>70 when its 15 outside).

2) Learning with the Nest was always wrong for me because I have an irregular schedule so I turned that off. For me, that was originally an appeal of the Nest.

3) Ecobee multi-room sensors are awesome. Unfortunately I've learned that my office is always 10 degrees warmer/cooler in summer/winter.

4) Ecobee is HomeKit/Siri compatible which I haven't really used much.

I installed the Ecobee myself and had to install the little box on my furnace to provide power. Not ideal, but easy.

I have 3 Ecobee3 thermostats at home and in general very pleased with them. The only issues I had - from time to time they loose connection to remote sensors (reconnect back without me doing anything) and once a thermostat got stuck on heating - rebooting fixed the issue. Otherwise works great, with great set of features that work as advertised and new updates coming regularly (Ecobee3 was first thermostat natively supported by Amazon Echo)

I chose the ecobee3 over the nest, works great, the remote sensors are awesome, and there is just the right amount of configuration possible if you want that, with sensible defaults otherwise

Well they have several products so are there specific alternatives you're looking for? I've heard great things about Honeywell thermostats but honestly haven't pulled the trigger on any yet. The Dropcam is okay but, in my opinion after using them for so long, they're way, way over priced for what little they do. I've never tried the smoke detector though their initial issues kinda scared me off from even trying them.

+1 for Honeywell thermostats and security. Only thing that reliably worked in my (very simple) home.

Mostly the thermostats but thanks for the tips on the other products as well!

As it turns out, your typical 5-2 programmable thermostat from Honeywell (or whoever) costs about $20 works pretty well. Set the schedule, 72 when you're there and lower/higher when you aren't there depending on the season. I think I interact with mine maybe 2 times a year.

That's the funny part.. I've been saying for years people could have 'saved energy' if they just set their 7 day schedule to their most common needs.

Most don't touch it.

Check out https://www.tado.com.

Disclaimer: I work there.

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