Adam Lashinsky has posted an extensive profile of ex-Apple executive Tony Fadell, who now runs Nest. Fadell, now a Google employee due to Nest’s acquisition in January, shares some anecdotes about his work with Steve Jobs.
In particular, Fadell says that Steve Jobs was frustrated by his persistent questioning. He also voices his disappointment that he was never able to show the former CEO his newest creation.
“He thought I asked too many questions… I would just keep asking, ‘Well, what about that? What about that?’ And he’d say, ‘Enough already.’ It would frustrate him. But then he’d ask me a ton of questions, and he could frustrate me, and I’d be like, ‘Steve, leave me alone.’” And on the fact that he was never able to tell Jobs about Nest: “I would have loved to have been able to show it to him, but the timing didn’t work.”
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Fadell is rather unique as an Apple executive, crafting another ‘big hit’ after leaving the company. Although nowadays Fadell is colloquially regarded as father of the iPod, he says himself he had doubts in the beginning, worried that he would be tarnished by Philips’ failed attempts in this space.
When Steve Jobs and his chief hardware deputy, Jon Rubinstein, came calling a few years later to recruit Fadell to work on a mobile music player, Fadell knew the pitfalls. “I discussed this with Steve,” he says. “I had had a marketing failure at Philips. I built products we couldn’t sell or market. I knew we needed executive air cover.” Jobs’ response was unequivocal: “Steve said, ‘We’re taking on Sony.’”
Amusingly, Fadell recalls resigning from Apple several times since joining. He apparently used the tactic to get his way in business decisions.
One time, after key members of his iPod team had been raided for another Apple project, Fadell informed Jobs he was done, and the CEO asked him to stay, telling Fadell he was overreacting. “I said, ‘I’m not overreacting.’ I told him I was out. If you didn’t stand up for yourself, no one else would.” (Fadell says he recanted at least two resignations, having gotten his way each time.)
Fadell left Apple in 2008. Google bought Nest in January of this year. On Google, Fadell points out the difference in communication structure.
On the difference between working at Google and Apple, Fadell says: “I’m getting emails from people from all over the world inside Google. At Apple the communications were very well structured.”
You can read Lashinsky’s full piece, which goes in-depth into the creation of Nest and more, over at Fortune.