Nest CEO: any privacy changes will be transparent

Tony Fadell says that any updates to privacy policy after Google purchase will also be opt-in

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
January 20, 2014
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After all that has happened over the past year or so, with all of the revelations about the NSA, PRISM and surveillance, its safe to that many people are not too keen on Google having access to their data. Whatever trust there was, even if it was very little, now seems to be gone.

That includes customers of  smart thermostat company Nest, which was picked up by Google for $3.2 billion last week.

Tony Fadell, CEO of the smart thermostat company, took the stage at the DLD Conference in Munich, on Monday, to finally address some of the issues that customers have raised, namely regarding privacy and security, and to assure his customers that they have nothing to worry about, at least not for the time being. 

“At this point, there are no changes. The data that we collect is all about our products and improving them," Fadell said.

That sure does make it sound like some changes will be coming down the road, though. The $3.2 billion that Google is spending is the most that the company has ever spent on an acquisition, outside of the $12.5 billion it spent on Motorola in 2011. So you know Google is going to want as much information as possible to advertise, and monetize, its new company.

So, when Google and Nest do eventually update their privacy agreement, Fadell promised that his customers will be fully aware of what they are agreeing to, will have control and and will not have their information stored in secret.

“If there were ever any changes whatsoever, we would be sure to be transparent about it, number one, and number two for you to opt-in to it," he said.

Elsewhere in the interview, Fadell also talked about his relationship with Google and CEO Larry Page.

“All I can say is we were finishing each other’s sentences and the visions that we had were just so large and so great, and they weren’t scared by them," said Fadell. "We were both getting exhilarated by what could change and how things could change, and that we could have the ability to change those things together.”

How Google puts Nest to use over the next months and years will be exciting to see. Especially if the company can keep its promise to be open and transparent with customers, 

About Nest

Nest was founded in 2010 by Tony Fadell, who is known as "the fathers of the iPod" for being the former Senior Vice President of the iPod Division at Apple.

The company became known for its smart thermostat, a small and simple tech device that learns user patterns and preferences to efficiently heat and cool their homes and help people save energy.

Nest has recently begun branching out beyond thermostats, debuting new carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, aka Nest Protect devices in October of last year.

Users are able to see the status of the batteries and sensors of every alarm. It will check a wired Protect device every half hour, and a battery-powered device every 24 hours, and of course, it will notify users when they need to change their batteries.

Nest raised a significant amount of capital, including an $80 million round back in January of 2013, with Google Ventures leading the round and Venrock participating. That lead to an $800 million valuation for the company.

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