Google's Nest partners up with utility company – on smart thermostats

Vows: Your data is safe with us

Web Summit Google’s internet-of-the-home subsidiary Nest has announced a partnership with a utility firm, offering its thermostats for free to customers of Electric Ireland.

Announcing the deal at Web Summit in Dublin, Tony Faddell said that the partnership was the kind of thing he’d dreamed about when he started the company four years ago.

“We think it’s going to change the world,” he boasted.

Faddell said that being bought out by Google has allowed the company formerly known as Nest Labs to expand in Europe much faster than it could have on its own and sign deals like this one, which was why he sold his company to the Chocolate Factory. But he denied that Google’s reason for buying Nest was to do with its data and said he made it clear to chief exec Larry Page that Nest’s data was off-limits.

“One of the big discussions we had with Larry was what we should do with the data,” he said.

“With Nest products, we’re invited into the home, like a guest… so it’s very important to have trust. Nest will stay Nest, the data will stay with us – the data won’t flow to Google and the ads won’t flow back,” he added.

He claimed that the only thing that Nest does with the data it gathers from its smart home products is improve its services.

“For example, we’ve used data from the last three years [in our latest software update] to eke out seven to ten per cent more energy efficiency and savings for customers,” he said.

When asked to compare working at Google with working at Apple, where he was senior veep of the iPod division from 2006 to 2008, Faddell said that the atmospheres were very different. He said that when he arrived at Google, the doors to all staff on the ladder were wide open, which was very different from Steve Jobs’ management style.

“It’s really nice and fresh to have that open communication and transparency… At Apple, you’re not just going to send an email to Steve Jobs about anything!”

However, he claimed that clashing with Jobs only made him better at his job.

“There was always differences of opinion with Jobs, and when you have that creative tension - that’s when the ideas come out,” he said. ®

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