As Nest merges with Google, CEO steps down
Nest hasn't been smooth sailing at Google and it doesn't look set to settle down anytime soon: after Nest rejoined Google just five months ago, its new CEO has now been pushed out.
CNET says that as the company merges Nest with its 'home and living room products team,' its CEO Marwan Fawaz has stepped down. Fawaz took over at Nest after joining Google in 2016, but employees say he was "the opposite" of Tony Fadell, Nest's founder, focused on business and efficiency.
By merging Nest with the home and living team, this signals a larger change: Google likely plans more smart home products and making Nest the center of that is a logical decision. In my mind, the next step from here is bringing this all together with a smart home hub: all of the pieces are there with the Home app, Google WiFi and Nest's thermostats, but they're disjointed today.
As Nest came into Google, it seemingly unstuck a pipeline of products including a home security system and Assistant-enabled cameras.
By merging in even deeper, I suspect we may see Nest fade into the background as a part of the wider hardware effort — when Nest joined it was a force in hardware to be reckoned with, but Google's hardware division has come into its own in recent years.
Perhaps most surprising is we also learned today that Google almost sold Nest to Amazon when it was streamlining the company, killing products to try and refocus on actually succeeding in fewer verticals. Amazon is now heavily invested in Ecobee, a Nest competitor, but I'd say Google dodged a bullet.
Walmart wants a piece of the streaming game
It looks like the video streaming industry is about to go down the same route as the music streaming one, with a bunch of companies building walled gardens before it's too late, and now Walmart wants in.
The Information (paywall) says that Walmart is planning a streaming service priced at $8 per month to undercut Netflix in addition to its existing service Vudu and target 'middle America.'
As the report points out, the space is increasingly fragmented, and it's not clear what Walmart could bring to the table:
In taking such a step, Walmart would join numerous tech and telecom companies that see TV shows as a way to attract customers. Apple is now financing production of shows for a new service, while Facebook has launched a video offering called Facebook Watch. AT&T is investing heavily in entertainment, through the purchase of Time Warner and DirecTV. The competition has increased the amount of TV shows being produced, making it harder for any one service to draw viewers.
Throwing in now would mean spending billions to either acquire, or create, content that attracts viewers at a time when it's already competitive. Or, like Apple, it may just start quietly acquiring a ton of TV shows over time.
With Disney's streaming service looming on the horizon, I'll be surprised if this goes ahead. Walmart has the cash to spare, I suppose, but launching a service targeted at people beyond the typical early adopters is interesting nonetheless.
Google Assistant gets a facelift
A big change for Assistant today with the launch of this new 'my day' feature that revives the card-focused interface we saw years ago in Google Now. Designed to be more predictive, this refresh is called 'Visual Snapshot' and tries to be more proactive for the user.
I use Assistant heavily, particularly now that Google lets you create custom routines such as 'going to bed' that turn off the lights, set your alarm, puts the phone on do not disturb and stops any music. This looks like a great improvement, particularly given that Google's proactive suggestions had disappeared after Now was depreciated.
Social media companies: we don't filter for political reasons
It's unsurprising that both Facebook and Twitter say they don't filter content at all for political reasons. Still, frustration is escalating with Facebook's loose policies on conservative content, and it's hard to imagine that long-term this strategy of having no stance is going to work out.
Stripe has started making physical books
I am quite excited about this! The first book is the 'High Growth Handbook' for turning a startup into a unicorn.
EU strikes data deal with Japan
Businesses can freely transfer data between EU and Japan with a new agreement coming into place later this year, which is good news for basically all of us building global products.