In a surprise announcement earlier today, Nest cofounder Tony Fadell revealed that he is stepping down from the CEO role he's held since co-founding the company in 2011. Fadell guided Nest from its earliest days to its acquisition by Google, and on through its transition under the Alphabet umbrella. But the company has come under criticism in the past year as it arguably bungled its acquisition of Dropcam and, according to Recode, failed to meet Google's expectations.
It's up to Marwan Fawaz to turn it around. Fawaz, who was named Nest CEO today — and received strong endorsements from Alphabet's Larry Page and the outgoing Fadell — has a background in the cable and communications industry. At Charter and Adelphia, he served as chief technical officer. Fawaz also spent time at Motorola Mobility as CEO of Motorola Home, the division responsible for set-top boxes and cable modems. (Motorola Home was sold to Arris during Google's ownership of Motorola Mobility.) Most recently, Fawaz has been consulting with his firm Sarepta Advisors and serving on the boards of billing and customer care company CSG International and Synacor, neither of which are exactly household names in consumer electronics.
In a statement, Nest said "his deep engineering and operational expertise across a range of tech businesses, and his experience will be extremely valuable as Nest enters its next phase of growth."
Fawaz may be an experienced executive in the cable and telecommunications industry, but he's not the media darling that Fadell was, thanks to a track record that included serving on the team behind the original iPod at Apple. Fadell was often criticized for his combative management style, so it will be interesting to see how Fawaz is in comparison. One interesting note: according to his LinkedIn profile, Fawaz is located in Denver, where Nest has an office and a number of employees. Nest did not say if he'd be relocating to Silicon Valley or not.
Overall, it's not clear exactly what this transition means for Nest, and there are many unanswered questions — for starters, why isn't Nest being absorbed into Google's hardware division? But Fadell says in his statement that the company has "a well-defined, two-year product roadmap in place."
Given how long it's been since Nest released a truly new product and not just a minor update of its existing devices, Fawaz will have his work cut out for him. The question is, will he be able to turn up the heat at Nest and get the company back on track?