Google parent company Alphabet is moving some developers from its Nest subsidiary over to Google as the latter ramps up its efforts in the smart home, The Verge has learned. These engineers are mainly responsible for the Nest platform, and they will now be working with Android chief Hiroshi Lockheimer to help bolster Google's ambitions in the living room. Fortune originally reported the news earlier today.
The engineering resource shift happens just as Google is preparing to launch its Amazon Echo competitor, a speaker called Google Home. The product was announced at the I/O developer conference in May without any strategic partnerships with third-party products. Nest, with its "Works with Nest" platform, already has these partnerships in place, with companies like Belkin, Philips, and smart lock maker August. So it makes sense Google would enlist its colleagues at Nest to help with this process.
Nest's platform team will now work closely with Android chief Hiroshi Lockheimer
This is just the latest in a series of organizational changes at Nest. The company, founded in 2010, was a celebrated smart home appliance maker when Google purchased it for $3.1 billion in 2014. Yet after Google's big reshuffle as Alphabet in August of last year, Nest became a separate entity distinct from Google. That created a lot of pressure on Nest to turn a profit and produce new products, something it struggled with under co-founder Tony Fadell, who departed in June. Following Fadell's departure, co-founder Matt Rogers assumed the role of chief product officer, The Verge has learned. Prior to July, Rogers was the vice president of engineering.
Now, some Nest members — numbering in the dozens — will be considered Google employees on Google payroll, working on third-party integrations and reporting to Lockheimer. This is the same team that works on Brillo and Weave, Google's Internet of Things and smart home platform and protocol technologies.
So where does that leave Nest's hardware and software divisions? As it stands, the company itself is still part of Alphabet and responsible for producing Nest thermostats, cameras, and smoke detectors, as well as the underlying software that runs them. Nest's platform team will now act as a intermediary between Nest and Google proper, with the Android and hardware units being the underlying thread between the two.
Lockheimer helps oversee Google's "living room" products
In April, Recode reported that former Motorola president Rick Osterloh would head up a new "living room" hardware suite that includes Chromecast, Chromebooks, Nexus devices, the OnHub router, the ATAP unit, and the remnants of the Google Glass division, now called Project Aura. At the time, it was said Osterloh would work closely with Lockheimer, who would shift his focus to software and platform development.
This is all to say that creating a link between Nest, Android, and Google's new hardware division may have been an intricate and elaborate plan for quite some time. It helps the Google Home team better build out the smart speaker with the kind of third-party integrations it needs to compete with Amazon. It also helps Nest stay involved with Google's other sprawling hardware projects.