Posts Tagged ‘Nest’
I remember when the press first hit about Nest Labs, the guys behind the iPod/iPhone were taking on thermostats everywhere! A collective “huh?” went through the tech industry. It felt like the tech version of the Avengers got together to build an office park, not save the world. After sitting down with Nest co-founder Matt Rogers at Google For Entrepreneurs‘ office a few weeks ago, I learned the backstory and vision of a company on a mission to build one of the world’s only great hardware/software companies in the world.
There are hard workers, there are really hard workers, and then there are the Matt Rogers of the world. If you think you work hard, please read/watch our entire interview then reevaluate. He had a quick start with his first Mac product interactions being at age three. As a child growing up in Gainesville Florida, when asked what he wanted to be someday, Matt would respond “I want to work at Apple.” At 16 he was building robots and entering them into competitions with his classmates. As a sophomore at Carnegie Mellon, he agreed to basically do anything (anything was help draw bones in CAD for a robotics hand project) to get a chance to work with with the robotics lab. His Junior year he applied via Monster.com, and pestered employees until he got accepted for an internship at Apple. That summer he took on the worst grunt work project imaginable (he rewrote all the software for manufacturing for iPod), and had three months for what he described as a “one year project.” 7-days a week, 20-hour days, and “basically not sleeping.” How did it pay off? As an intern Apple awarded him a cash bonus, what VP of iPod at the time and eventual Nest co-founder Tony Fadell said was something, “He had never done before.”
After school he returned to Apple and spent the next few years working on the firmware for iPod nano and iPod classic. After his first weekend back at Apple, and spending Saturday and Sunday getting moved in and buying furniture, his manager approached him saying, “Where have you been?” Matt responded, “I went to buy furniture.” He replied, “You should have been here.” He responded, “Oh. I didn’t even know!” Matt said that this, ”Set the pace for how iPod would be for the next five years.”
In December 2005, Matt and a small team started working on the first iPhone concepts in a project called “Purple.” At the time no one in the company knew what was going on, not even some of their own managers. They built the initial prototype in four months. It wasn’t good enough so they started again. That second version was the one Steve Jobs would unveil on stage at MacWorld in January 2007. Four weeks previous to that, 25-members of the team went to China hand-building from scratch each of the first 200-devices to be shown at MacWorld. The team was divided into day shift and night shift to hit the deadlines, working through Christmas and returning after New Year’s Day.
The Founding of Nest
After shipping the iPhone, Matt led work on Nano, Shuffle, and parts of the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV projects. By late 2009 he had hired 40-people and managed teams building these products, all in his mid-late twenties. That fall he had a two hour lunch with Tony Fadell, his former boss at Apple who had left in 2008. Matt told Tony he wanted to start a company. “What do you want to do?” Tony replied. “I want to build a smart home company.” Tony’s response? “You’re an idiot. No one wants to buy a smart home, they’re for geeks.” But it turned out Tony was already building a smart home in Tahoe, with solar panels, geothermal heat pumps, and more. Tony honed in and focused on a single idea. “Why don’t you just build me a thermostat?” Matt replied, “Why not? We could build an iPod?” Tony responded, “We’ll do it in six months.”
Tony and Matt have what appears to be the ideal co-founder relationship, stemming back from his early internship days at Apple. “We think very much alike, to the point where we complete each other’s sentences. I don’t know if I would be able to do it without him.”
But was this the idea to risk a promising future at Apple on? Matt had elevated from intern to Senior Manager in just a few short years. “The more we dug, the more we realized, this is a company we must go start. We could save 10% of energy, solve an epic problem, no innovation, multibillion dollar market. Why would we not do this?”
Matt quit his job in Spring 2010, rented a garage in Palo Alto, and started cranking in secret. Matt would visit with old colleagues and say “Hey will you quit your job? Will you come work (for free) with us on a new project I can’t tell you about?” The first ten hires worked for free for six months before finally raising money in October 2010. They bootstrapped with money from Tony and some from Matt. “We were all working basically severn days a week, twelve hours a day, it was crazy. Not everyone was living in the office – people have families, so they’d go home for dinner and then come back. It was craziness.” Everyone worked on Thanksgiving only taking a few hours off. Matt claims no one got divorced over the extreme conditions adding that “all the wives are happy now.”
Still no one knew that Tony was even involved. “In the early days when we were fully stealth. “We had no website, no LinkedIn, we had nothing. Zero outbound communication. I wouldn’t even tell people that (Tony was involved). For all they knew, I was the only founder. To get people in the door the first time meant I did a lot of lunches, a lot of coffees to get people excited. I wouldn’t tell people on the first date – I’d show a little leg, but I wouldn’t go all the way.”
So here is Nest, in stealth, building an incredibly difficult hardware/software product, with limited funding, but still managing to assemble a killer engineering team, in the midst of a talent war with Facebook, LinkedIn, Groupon, and Twitter exploding all around. “It was a mixture of my old team at Apple, my old professor from CMU and a few folks from Tony’s early days at General Magic twenty years earlier. One guy was a VP at Twitter, one was running Microsoft User Experience. Unlike most startup teams the average age of our team was about 40. I think I was the youngest.”
A year after raising a Series A from Kleiner Perkins, Google Ventures, Lightspeed, Shasta, and others, they shipped their first product. This spring Nest was widely rumored to have raised $ 80MM at an $ 800MM valuation and shipping 50,000 thermostats each month. This company that was in a garage in 2010 is now +200 employees, and selling products in Lowe’s, Apple Stores, Best Buy, and about half their inventory is sold online. The company is not without controversy, having been sued by Honeywell for patient infringement, and as one friend in the home automation industry recently told me, “Everyone is watching Nest.” They also recently acquired venture backed energy dashboard MyEnergy.
Nest launched their first product a year after raising Series A, 18-months after their inception, with 75-employees and having spent $ 10MM. “That’s with a team of extremely senior guys who have all done this a dozen times before. The difference between doing it a dozen times before at Apple, Samsung or Google and doing it on your own, is that there’s no backup. At Apple we worked on the project for a year, got it ready and hand it over to the operations team to go scale and shoot to the moon with. We all had roles we played at previous companies and that all went out the window at Startup Land. You have an HR hat, facilities hat, janitor hat, doesn’t matter, you have do it.”
Is it any surprise that there are so few hardware startups the Valley? Or that most entrepreneurs choose an app or a website over a hardware device? Entrepreneurship is hard enough not to have to layer in these complications. Matt adds, “I don’t believe I could build Nest if Tony and I didn’t have all that experience at Apple. It’s really hard to pull off fully integrated consumer electronic devices. It’s also really expensive to build a consumer electronic product. You have to build prototypes but you have to build tools. You have to get a manufacturing line set up. You have to front inventory costs. It’s crazy expensive.”
When our interview finished a few weeks ago, I walked Matt out to his car. It was 9pm, and he was cheerfully headed back to work for yet another late night at Nest. After hearing about the culture and work ethic at Nest, his attitude simply reminded me of how he described working a holiday a few years previously. ”That’s what it takes,” he casually said. And if you really want to change the world I couldn’t agree more.
Nest proved that energy monitoring can be tantalizing. And it’s about to get even better. The company just announced that it has acquired MyEnergy to further enhance its suite of monitoring tools. Terms of deal were not released.
Originally called Earth Aid, the startup launched its online dashboard in 2009 as one of the first energy monitoring solutions. Similar to EnergySavvy, Google’s Powermeter andMicrosoft’s Hohm, Earth Aid, and now MyEnergy, provides consumers with information on how much electricity, water, and natural gas they use and how much they spend on these utilities. Simply connect your online utility accounts with the platform, and the system imports all the necessary bits and displays them on the beautiful web dashboard.
Spend a few quick minutes on MyEnergy.com and it’s easy to see why Nest wanted MyEnergy in its corner. The system is wonderful. Just like the Nest Learning Thermostat.
In 2011 the startup raised $ 4 million in Series A funding from Point Judith Capital, the Clean Energy Venture Group, and Capital-E. According to today’s announcement, MyEnergy has users in all 50 U.S. states and spans more than 1,500 utility territories.
“Giving our customers more in-depth access and analysis of their energy usage has always been part of the Nest vision,” said Tony Fadell, Nest founder and CEO said in a released statement today. “We’ve made great strides in the past year and a half; by bringing MyEnergy into the Nest family, we can reach our goals even faster. The MyEnergy team is incredibly like-minded and we’ve already begun working with them to find ways to integrate their technology into Nest products.”
The Nest Learning Thermostat is beautiful. But the web dashboard is lacking in depth. There is plenty of room for improvement. MyEnergy will likely not only make it look better, but dramatically enhance the tool set by giving the homeowner information from their neighborhood.
Nest is charging forward, simultaneously building out consumer aspects and partnering with utility companies. This acquisition clearly fits within Nest’s vision. It’s unclear exactly what Nest plans to do with MyEnergy, but as a Nest user myself, I’m rather excited to see what Tony Fadell and team does with the beautiful MyEnergy platform.
Nest Labs isn’t counting solely on the allure of discounts from power companies to reel us in this spring. It’s pushing out a 3.5 update to all versions of the Nest Learning Thermostat that should be make it smarter about saving money — even if it means spending a little up front. Along with the utility tie-ins from last week, the upgrade adds a Cool to Dry mode that invokes air conditioning when it’s too humid, raising the energy bill slightly to avoid a costlier mold outbreak. The thermostat also won’t be easily duped by the sun: a new Sunblock setting prevents unnecessary cooling whenever direct sunlight affects the temperature reading. Homeowners who just want more precision, meanwhile, may be happy with both refined fan scheduling (shown above) as well as mobile app updates that introduce alert messages and a more thermostat-like interface. Those with Nest units connected to WiFi should see version 3.5, and hopefully its intended savings, by 9PM Eastern tonight.
Filed under: Household
The Nest thermostat has currently examined a hardware revision or 2 and found its way onto plenty of physical and virtual store racks, however moms and dad business Nest Labs aspires to get it into more households in short order.
The Palo Alto business has actually simply revealed that it has joined energy service providers from throughout the country that will see brand-new climate-control services (not to point out some refunds) go live for customers in a handful of markets.
Up until now, the list of partners consists of National Grid, NRG Energy, NRG subsidiaries Reliant and Eco-friendly Mountain Energy, Austin Energy and Southern California Edison. You can probably suspect exactly what markets those last two serve. These recently forged collaborations could see adoption of the household device surge — consumers who ink handle National Grid, for example, can claim a $ 100 discount to assist defray the costs of a Nest thermostat.
While the others don’t offer much in the way of actual money back, Nest’s tie-ups emphasize the lasting value of having a Nest over a run-of-the-mill thermostat. The way the people at Nest appearance at it, their gadget is just visiting become more useful as the days get longer and warmer, and those new services I discussed earlier ought to only assist matters when it pertains to the cost-conscious.
Initially up is Nest’s so-called Rush Hour Incentives, which are indicated to reduce the lots on already-strained power stations once it begins getting really hot outside. Rather than cranking the temperature level down low and leaving it there as a hapless human may, the Nest instead gets a feel for the sorts of climates its users like and will sporadically turn down the temperature level to keep things within that favored variety. By occasionally introducing blasts of cold air rather of simply leaving things to go for complete blast, the Nest can keep your home at about the same temperature as in the past without much of a matching bump on the expense.
Also component of the bundle is what Nest calls “seasonal savings,” which will see the clever thermostat measure user temperature inclinations during the year and make small modifications during a couple of weeks. The idea is to minimize an individual’s heating expense by thoroughly adjusting them to a new, more cost-efficient temperature scheme without the residents even noticing.
In the meantime, only customers who choose certain strategies with those power business can use these brand-new services, however I extremely much doubt that group Nest is content to leave things as they are. These sorts of offers will just serve to raise the company’s profile, and buy-in from power partners is a huge offer for Nest especially as the business’s rivals have moved to make their own wares smarter. Consider Honeywell: it currently filed a lawsuit against Nest last year for expected acts of copyright infringement, an accusation that Nest Labs vigorously disagrees with. Meanwhile, the corporation is preparing to launch a rather good-looking brilliant thermostat of its own, so offers like these can assist Nest remain an action ahead of the pack.
Nest answered that age old concern: the best ways to make the thermostat amazing? The startup has managed to bring the smooth and cutting edge technologies of mobile gadgets to the globe of home temperature level control, helping us to reconsider the means we consider residence automation at the same time.
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Nest Founder Matt Rogers Details Future Plans For Their Digital Thermostat, International Expansion In The Works
This year at Nest has actually been full of modifications. The business introduced a brand-new version in October and improved the iPad/iPhone app. They likewise began sending e-mails to users describing energy usage in their area and detailing exactly how much they ’ ve conserved throughout the period.
Rogers informed us about their recent outage, discussing that their activation servers went down because they had offered numerous devices. It was, he stated, the only thermostat that people wished to leave under the tree for the holidays which, I think, is a first in the world home electronics mainly connected with House Depot.
He additionally spoke about the market for the thermostats, explaining that 10 million are offered every year in the United States and Canada. He expects to see updates to the gadget and software and, a lot of remarkably, prepares to expand out of the country.
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Nest Founder Matt Rogers Details Future Plans For Their Digital Thermostat, International Expansion In The Works
This year at Nest has been full of changes. The company launched a new version in October and improved the iPad/iPhone app. They also began sending emails to users describing energy usage in their area and detailing how much they’ve saved during the period.
Rogers told us about their recent outage, explaining that their activation servers went down because they had sold so many units. It was, he said, the only thermostat that people wanted to leave under the tree for the holidays which, I believe, is a first in the realm home electronics mostly associated with Home Depot.
He also talked about the market for the thermostats, explaining that 10 million are sold every year in the US and Canada. He expects to see updates to the device and software and, most interestingly, plans to expand out of the country.
Never minding the legal wranglings with Honeywell, Nest Labs is on a roll lately and just announced Amazon as the latest retailer to sell the Nest Learning Thermostat. This follows similar announcements concerning Lowes and the Apple Store. Amazon is currently selling the product at its full $ 249 MSRP, but it is available through Prime, making it a little better deal than from other retailers.
This is a big move for Nest Labs. It’s also somewhat surprising that it took so long. The Nest Learning Thermostat launched late last year. As Nest notes in today’s announcement, there are 65 million people who use Amazon regularly. Personally, I check Amazon for any product before turning to other retailers.
At $ 249 the Nest Learning Thermostat is a bit pricey. It’s a hard sell even with the company’s promise that it will reduce a person’s utility bill thanks to its learning functionality and motion sensors. It’s no doubt disruptive enough to capture the attention of Honeywell’s legal hounds, which are currently arguing the thermostat is infringing on seven of its patents related to its thermostat technology and design. But this nonsense hasn’t stopped Nest Labs — at least not yet.
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If any household product deserves a spot in the Apple Store, it’s the Nest Thermostat. Never mind the common denominator of long-time Apple employee, Tony Fadell, the Nest Thermostat exemplifies Apple’s mantra of making technology accessible. The Nest isn’t just a pretty face. Behind the shiny exterior are enough disruptive bits to make thermostat giant, Honeywell, attempt to sue the company out of existence. Starting today, the Nest is now available in Apple’s retail stores and the website.
The Apple Store sells the Nest at its full, $ 249 MSRP — Lowes sells it for the same price. But as the company promises, homeowners should recoup that high price with monthly savings on their utility bill thanks to the Nest’s learning and motion sensing features. Owners can also control the settings from iOS and Android devices, arguably allowing for even more savings.
As The Verge points out, this comes just one day after the Nest headed to the Great White North. Just yesterday, Nest Labs announced Canadian availability of its learning thermostat because, you know, even Canadians deserve lower utility bills by way of a beautiful device.
It turns out the rumors were true: Apple has begun selling the Nest Learning Thermostat in its online store for $ 249.95. It’s the second large retail expansion for Nest in the past 24 hours, with the company announcing Canadian availability of the next-gen thermostat just yesterday. Apple is offering the device for $ 249.95 in the US — Nest charges $ 249 on its own site — while installation is available through trained professionals. Despite the Canadian launch, Apple is not currently stocking Nest at its online store in Canada.
Though the move might seem somewhat outside of Apple’s usual purview, the two companies are on many levels a natural match. Both have a pronounced emphasis on design and usability in their respective products,…