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Anonymous Nest engineer rips into the company, details toxic working environment

Published Apr 5th, 2016 1:55PM EDT
Nest's Toxic Working Environment
Image: Nest

There’s something brewing over at Nest and it ain’t pretty. Though once one of Google’s more promising acquisitions, the company that helped put a friendly face on devices like thermostats and smoke alarms has reportedly lost its way. Not only has the company been unable to come up with any new type of innovative hardware, recent reports indicate that the Alphabet subsidiary is practically bleeding money while continuing to lose key talent.

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The most recent indication that Nest might be withering right before our eyes comes from an anonymous Nest engineer who recently posted a scathing overview of what life at the company is like behind the scenes. While it’s obviously impossible to verify the veracity of an anonymous post on Reddit, the comment in question aligns all too well with a number of previously released reports about the company.

In a theme that is seemingly becoming more and more common, Nest CEO Tony Fadell is called to task for being a ruthless and impossibly demanding boss.

The full Reddit post can be read below, complete with a hilarious shoutout to Fadell’s “goons.”

As a Nest engineer, I won’t say any numbers that aren’t public, but this company is already on deathwatch. Once that happens, most people will quickly have shiny paperweights because it’s a constant firefight keeping these systems up. We have $340M in revenue, not profit, against a ~$500M budget. No new products since the purchase, and sales/growth numbers are dire. Our budget deal expires soon, and all the good engineers on my teams have discreetly indicated they are going to flee once their golden handcuffs unlock (many have already left despite sacrificing a lot of money to do so).

Tony and his goons demand crazy timelines so much that “crunch time” has basically lost meaning. Just when your labor bears fruit, they swoop in, 180 the specs you just delivered on, then have the gall to call your team “incompetent” for not reading their mind and delivering on these brand-new specs. I waste most of my time in pointless meetings, or defending my teams so they don’t flip their desks and walk out.

People fall asleep in corners and cry in the bathrooms, health and marriages are suffering. Already the churn is insane, close to half the company if not more. Skilled engineers can tell the environment is toxic, so we’re filling vacancies with mostly sub-par talent.

Tony, you can’t hide anything from engineers. We know how many units are actually being sold, how many subscriptions lapse, how many fail or get returned. We know about that time-bomb flaw you ignored so people will have to upgrade. We can see the data in those executive dashboards you think we don’t know about. But go ahead, keep trashing us in public. We dare you to tell everyone just how much of that $340M was due to a simple Dropcam rebrand, and not the thermostats and smoke alarms. Good luck shipping that critical new project after restarting it for the umpteenth time.

Ah, that feels better. Now off to the other 4 meetings I have today.

Just last week, Dropcam cofounder Greg Duffy also laid into Fadell for remarks he made about Dropcam engineers not being “as good as we’d hoped.” And two weeks ago, you might recall an expose on Next via The Information which relayed a number of similarly unflattering anecdotes about Nest’s culture and working environment.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.