Fadell first started at Apple in 2001 as a consultant and made his to SVP of the iPod division in 2006. He recalls working with Steve Jobs, and how at times he would have to 'quit' to get his way into business decisions at the company.
Legend has it that Jobs periodically fired Fadell. In fact, Fadell says, he repeatedly quit. 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.)
The relationship between then two mimicked father/son and school principal/naughty student, notes Fadell.
“He thought I asked too many questions,” says Fadell. “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.’"
Fadell launched a stealth startup in 2010 that eventually lead to the Nest learning thermostat. Unfortunately, Jobs was very ill when Nest was about to launch. When Fadell was almost ready to share more, Jobs died several weeks later.
By the time Fadell was ready to share more in the summer of 2011, however, Jobs had grown gravely ill, and he died several weeks later. “I would have loved to have been able to show it to him, but the timing didn’t work,” he says. Jobs presumably would have been proud of Fadell. And he almost certainly would have asked a lot of questions.
Google would go on to acquire Nest for $3.2 billion in cash and 100 former Apple employees.