THE WEB SUMMIT, DUBLIN: Tony Fadell, CEO of Nest – the ‘smart thermostat’ company acquired by Google for $3.2 billion last January – revealed the company will offer its product for free to Electric Ireland’s customers as it embarks on an international push.

Fadell also used his appearance at the event to provide insight into life with new parent Google, how Nest refuses to share its customer data, and why the firm is attempting to create an ecosystem around its products.

On the Electric Ireland deal, Nest is offering its thermostat and free installation for customers signing up to a two-year plan with the utility. “1.6 million homes can now get a free Nest,” he said. “We think this is a huge announcement that could change Ireland. Electric Ireland sees the vision and hopefully we can bring this to more countries.”

Fadell dropped the news during a conversation about how being acquired by Google had changed Nest. “We were able to come to Europe much more quickly. We could go into at least four more countries in Europe and we will push into more,” he commented, adding that Nest’s products have actually been fitted in 135 countries where the company doesn’t have an active retail strategy.

Reflecting on why Google paid so handsomely for the startup. Fadell claimed it was “a marriage of mission, not money. This wasn’t about ads or search it was about changing the home environment”.

Touching on the issue of data privacy, Fadell stressed that he insisted that the company’s huge amounts of customer data are not shared with Google. “Nest will stay Nest… We had a dialogue with [Google CEO] Larry [Page] saying specifically that we are not going to do this. It’s our duty to earn that trust country by country to keep our products really secure and not share that data.”

Fadell added that the company’s main use of customer data is “to make our software better”.

While the company’s flagship product is its thermostat, its latest release is a smart smoke detector. And Fadell now wants to boost its portfolio by working with innovative startups across the ‘connected’ ecosystem: “We can’t build everything and take every product in the home and revolutionise it. We need partners.”