Marwan Fawaz to Replace Tony Fadell at Nest

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2016-06-06 Print this article Print

Alphabet has selected Marwan Fawaz, a low-key telecom veteran with proven success in the home IoT space, to replace Nest founder Tony Fadell.

Marwan Fawaz has yet to change his LinkedIn profile, but the executive adviser and former CEO of the Motorola Home business is the new CEO of Nest.

Nest co-founder Tony Fadell announced his departure, and Fawaz's appointment, in a June 3 blog post.

"Marwan's extensive technology and engineering knowledge, his experience with global service providers, as well as his background in connected home platforms will be valuable in continuing our trajectory, especially in scaling the business, working with our partners, and supporting our enterprise channels," Fadell wrote.

"I have no doubt that the company will continue to flourish under his guidance and can't wait to see the innovations currently in development brought to market."

Fadell was famously part of the Apple engineering team that created the iPod. He created Nest in 2010 with Matt Rogers, a fellow Apple engineer, and in January 2014 they sold the company to Google for $3.2 billion, before Alphabet was created in 2015 as Google's parent company.

Fadell wrote that the time was right for him to leave, and departing would give him "time and flexibility to pursue new opportunities to create and disrupt other industries."

He added that he will continue to be an adviser to Alphabet and its CEO Larry Page—and that Nest will no doubt continue to flourish.

"When Matt Rogers and I founded Nest six years ago, neither one of us imagined the company and products would take off as quickly as they did. We hit the ground running and—along with the rest of the Nest team—haven't paused since."

They have experienced some bumps in the road, though.

In June 2014, Nest acquired video monitoring company Dropcam for $555 million—a transaction that Dropcam founder Greg Duffy later publicly wrote that he regretted, pushing back against an article in The Information that described a corrosive culture at Nest and an exodus of employees, and in which Fadell is quoted as calling the Dropcam team inexperienced.

"The ~50 Dropcam employees who resigned did so because they felt their ability to build great products being totally crushed," Duffy wrote in a March 29 post on Medium. "… On the surface, Dropcam might have looked like a little gadget company. But we and our customers knew it was more."

Ezra Gottheil, a principal analyst with Technology Business Research, says he's seeing lots of "dashed expectations" in the consumer Internet of things (IoT) market.

"I think this is because it is not one market or even two—it is a collection of markets," Gottheil told eWEEK. "The thermostat market is separate from the video monitoring market, etc. Each kind of device has the potential for innovation, essentially because WiFi is ubiquitous and the components are cheap. But for each one, the potential for adding value is different, and the market and sales channels are different."

Fawaz isn't a typical Google hire. Aside from Motorola Home—which Fawaz effectively slimmed down and sold to cable television vendor Arris Group for $2.35 billion in 2013—his resume isn't littered with household names. He also doesn't have a Twitter account and doesn't seem to have publically commented on his new job.

Fawaz was the CTO and executive vice president of strategy at telecom Charter Communications for nearly five years. Currently, he's on the boards of home security company ADT; Synacor, a mobile portal; and CSG International, a telecom billing and revenue growth company.

"Fawaz's leadership track record makes him an excellent choice to become Nest's CEO. But his relationships with service providers—SPs, as noted in Fadell's goodbye note—suggest that he is also likely to lead the company in a significantly new direction," Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told eWEEK.

"If Nest is to find a spot in the still-emerging IoT for the Home market, it needs to find muscular partners that will promote its solutions as IoT endpoints," King continued. "SPs are ideally positioned to support those efforts, a point that underscores the importance of Fawaz's past experiences and telco industry ties."

Fawaz is also the founder and a managing partner at Sarepta Advisors in the Denver area. According to Fawaz's LinkedIn account, Sarepta helps executive teams "successfully navigate and make decisions in increasingly competitive and changing environments."

The IoT market is "increasingly defined by industrial and business use cases, not consumer products," Pund-IT's King added. The decision to replace Fadell with Fawaz suggests Alphabet "fully understands that dynamic and the need for a leadership change to effectively pursue its goals."


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