Who’s Got Nest?

Like most other tech sectors, the cleantech world is subject to fads that are overhyped — meteoric rises, sometimes followed by spectacular flameouts. It seems like we humans like to create heroes and then tear them down.

There’s a particular tendency to sing the praises of the latest “hot company”:  the one that has the best investors, is on the fastest growth path, offers the coolest product.

In cleantech, that company today may well be Nest.  The investor roster represents the top-drawer of venture capitalists, including Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), Kleiner Perkins, Venrock, and Lightspeed.

What are they betting on?  In the words of Technology Review, who recently profiled the company, Nest “injected new technology into the humble thermostat”. Imagine a thermostat developed and marketed by Apple (NASDAQ:  AAPL).

The Apple link is not coincidental:  the co-founders are Tony Fadell (who created the iPod) and Matt Rogers (who led the development of the iPhone).  One look at the Nest and the Apple lineage becomes crystal clear.  Surely, Nest would have called their product the iStat if they could get away with it.

As with Apple, arguably the key advancement offered by Nest is the human interface.  Programmable thermostats have been around for years, but most users have found them bothersome.  Nest aims to make the functionality as intuitive as Apple has with their devices, therein revolutionizing the way that households manage their heating and cooling requirements — and, by extension, their energy consumption.

Early reviews, such as this one by Katherine Boehret of the Wall Street Journal, are gushing.  I haven’t played around with one yet, but am looking forward to doing so.  I’d welcome any feedback from those who have.