Nest’s Fadell: Being at Google doesn’t make us a slave to data

When Google acquired home automation company Nest Labs in January, more than a few people wondered how consumers would react. After all, the search giant is best known for sucking up every piece of information it can get its hands on — would anyone trust it to control their thermostat, light switches and other pieces of their domestic lives?

According to Nest CEO Tony Fadell, who spoke Wednesday at Gigaom’s Roadmap event in San Francisco, the transition has gone smoothly — in part because Google has allowed Nest to make decisions based on emotion or “EQ” rather than just the pure “IQ” of data points.

“As soon as you turn the decision over to the data, you start to lose your own gut,” said Fadell, who added that Google has become a more emotional company of late, a shift that he says is reflected in things like the material design of Android.

Fadell added that the biggest life change under Google has been the imposition of the company’s “OKR’s,” a quarterly system that requires teams to set Objectives and Key Results (he says the system is perhaps most important for defining what he is not going to do at a given time).

Google ownership has also meant acquisitions like Dropcam, and a marketing budget that has let Nest launch a series of TV commercials to promote the promise — and acknowledge the creepiness — of an internet-connected smart home. Oh, and apparently it’s not a “smart home” anymore. Fadell said his preferred parlance is now “the conscious home.”

You can get hear more about Nest’s experiences as a Google company, plus some wisdom from Om and Fadell on design culture and whether smartwatches will ever catch on, in the video below.

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