Google To Acquire Nest (for truckloads of cash)

Dave Zatz —  January 14, 2014 — 15 Comments

google-nest

Earlier than expected and for a sum that cannot be calculated rationally, Google has entered into an arrangement to purchase Nest for 3.2 billion in cash. Which totals more than two Instagrams and two Flips… combined. While Nest has grown rapidly, now exceeding 200 employees with healthy buzz and presumably solid sales (which the company does not disclose), the acquisition strikes me as a move to lock up the Nest team and product/service pipeline – before someone else does. Of course, this isn’t Google’s first foray into home monitoring and control. But unlike the short-lived Google powermeter the upside, via retail sales and Google service tie-ins, will be much higher. And, with the connected home as the next frontier, this gives Google one of the hottest players in the game ahead of whatever the likes of Sony or Apple might be working on. (Related, we can’t help but wonder if Apple will keep Nest on store shelves.)

As for me, Nest hasn’t lived up to the hype. I’ve run their “smart” thermostat for over a year now. And neither the learning capabilities nor auto away functionality have been particularly effective. Further, my Nest remains a gadget silo (although there are signs of hope). Given the thermostat’s random reboots and the cost to wire up my home in relation to its perceived value, the $129 Protect is off the table, What I’m left with is a very attractive piece of digital industrial wall art and convenient WiFi temperature control. At $250, I’ve been reluctant to recommend Nest and haven’t taken the plunge on replacing my second thermostat.

15 responses to Google To Acquire Nest (for truckloads of cash)

  1. Been using the Nest for 2 years now and it has made a difference in cost of gas and electricity.

    Torn by Google’s purchase of Nest. With Gmail and other Google services, sure I know that they are collecting my data and using it to better ads and Google+. But with Nest, that data seems more intimate because it’s directly inside my home. A bit apprehensive. :-(

  2. They did indicate to The Verge that for the time being Nest will remain an independent company and their privacy policy will not change. Insider trivia… I know of one senior guy who moved on a few months back, tired of being Fadell-ed.

  3. This is a great move for google. Fadel could be the next google CEO.

  4. Michael Burstin January 14, 2014 at 9:03 am

    I’ve liked my Nest so far – about 2 weeks into owning it. I did set up a schedule manually on the web site simply because it was so (so) cold the first week having it in and didn’t want to let it figure out when I wake up and not have it be warm enough to get out of bed.

    Not sure entirely how much its automated features will be used for me, especially because I mostly work from home so therefore need it to be warm/cool all day long, but I need to replace a thermostat that my electric company installed for a pilot program that ended and wanted something with wi-fi connectivity.

    I was hesitant to spend the extra money on the Nest until I saw that they had a $100 discount from my gas company making the price more in-line with other wi-fi connected thermostats that were not nearly as advanced.

    In any case, not sure how I feel about the Google acquisition. Hope that they don’t try to make too many changes to the software but I’m guessing that the hardware is pretty limited inside to allow for too much playing.

  5. I did a bake off last year between the Nest and a run of the mill 7day five settings/day programmable thermostat that cost about $40 three years ago. I didn’t save more than a dollar. At the end of the day the tiny savings weren’t worth the hassle. To be the next thing it needs to be easier and more convenient than what came before. It failed for me. Home automation is cool in the movies but outside of the occasional home theater or ceiling fan I’ll stick to flipping my own switches.

  6. The auto away performance is highly dependent on the placement of the thermostats. They need to be somewhere that they can “see” you regularly. Of course, since most Nests are replacing older thermostats, you usually don’t get a choice on placement. I’m lucky that mine happen to be in a pretty good spot, so the auto away works great. The learning also works pretty well for us. I very rarely have to manually touch the temperature, and it does a good job of shutting down when not needed. But honestly for me, the biggest benefit is being able to make those rare adjustments without getting off the couch or out of bed. That alone is worth the cost to me. Call it the price of laziness…

  7. My Nest has worked great but my thermostat location is next to our main living area so it has the best chance of knowing when we are or are not home. In my opinion, I think we have saved money but with different weather year to year it is hard know for sure (this winter is much colder in the Mid Atlantic).
    While on vacation this summer we had the AC off, it was great to be able to kick on the AC (in July) before our plane took off so the house was not an oven when we walked in from a long trip.

  8. My Nest is theoretically well positioned in the hallway between the family room and kitchen. But sometimes I walk by and Auto Away is on (despite my movement) and my heat ran one weekend I was away when it didn’t kick in. Auto Away has been reworked some since I’ve owned the Nest (and that weekend getaway) and I do believe it’s better… but still oversold in my experience. Regarding the WiFi control, every time Costco has the wireless Honeywells on sale for $80 I question my Nest investment (knowing I could have replaced both my thermostats for less than one Nest) – but it is pretty and a nice conversation peice.

  9. Bought 2 Nests in Dec ’12. At the time I also switched to a time-of-use electricity plan (useful for Vegas summers, and I get cheap nighttime rates to charge my Chevy Volt). The time-of-use plan has saved me $400/yr over the flat-rate 12c/kWh plan. Also my electricity consumption in the summer has dropped (due to auto-away and Airwave features) which I estimate has saved me another $200/yr, so I should pay back the original investment in about three years. My wintertime heating bill has dropped marginally ($10 or so per month over 3 months).

    I’ve been mostly happy, their weakest point is that I cant input my time of use schedule into the Nest so it knows when its expensive to run the A/C. I manually programmed the nest to cool my house to 70 before the 1PM ToU peak time, and then have it set to let the temperature rise to 78 (or higher) between 1-7P when the peak rates are in effect. It would be nice if the Nest would do this for me if I can just tell it to use the least amount of AC between 1-7PM.

  10. I’ve had Nest installed in my Condo for almost a year now and love it. No problems with the rebooting that Dave mentions and the auto away works well for me. Strange that you’ve had so many problems – perhaps its because you live in such a big mansion ;)

    Regarding the purchase by Google, I’m not crazy about it as a Nest customer since you never know how much love Google will really give it. The price does make one wonder though – is there really THAT much value? Are there other products in the works already that Google saw, patents that google wanted or did they just want a way to give Fadel a really big signing bonus to be a Googler?

  11. I just bought a regular honeywell wifi thermostat. It was $150 I think and I can and have programmed it to work exactly as I want it to. It has 4 different settings per day in the traditional wake, leave, return, and sleep (they may call it something different) and I can set it differently for every day of the week if my schedule varies. And I can control it from my phone though I rarely have to. I’m not really sure how a Nest would be better for me.

  12. Hopefully this doesn’t change things with Nest.

    I’ve been using a Nest thermostat for close to a year now. It has worked extremely well. Especially the auto away function. That has been great for me. Plus the learning capability has been superb too. It has accurately set the temp change times based on how I manually changed the temperature. Both for heating and cooling the learning has been spot on.

    I’m hoping to pick up some of the Nest smoke/fire detectors later this year.

    But wow!! 3.2 billion in cash? That seems like a crazy amount of money. Someone was doing backflips after that sale!

  13. I have two Nests. Both work fine once installed. A bit of a tricky installation on the 2nd one. But very few issues.

    Have not seen any significant savings I can point to. Laziness factor is great though. And its a nice conversation piece. But can’t recommend it to others really. I won’t be getting the smoke detectors.

    Also have mixed feelings about Google. I don’t like their business plan, but use their services. Like their ambitions and the things they can do with all that money. Google should protect Nest from the patent trolls as well.

    In the past though we all got our hopes up about what Google might do with their Sage TV acquisition (so far nothing of consequence). Or their Motorola TV acquisition (since sold). Or their Motorola Phone acquisition (so far nothing of consequence, the Nexus line of phones and in particular its pricing has been more interesting). Google has the potential to say take this group and expand its ambitions. I don’t want to buy a home security product from Comcast. I’d rather buy one from Nest/Google. Integrated with my other “internet of things” products in my home, with lots more home automation and power/money saving gadgets that are plug ‘n play.

    Will any of this materialize as a result of this acquisition? No idea…

  14. The Nest thermostat is cool and all, but I’d say it might be worth only a 25% premium over other less sexy WiFi enabled thermostats. I have 3M branded unit that has performed well for 18 months and cost less than $100.00.

  15. I’ve been using Next thermostat for 2 years now, started with 1. We moved last year to home with 2 zones and 1st thing we bought was 2nd Nest.
    Its been great for us. Auto Away is working great, never had any issues with it. No random reboots.

    I have to admit, bit concern with Google buying the Nest. I wish Apple bought them instead of Google due to similar personality of the company and staff. We will see what future will bring.

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