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While Nest flails, Tony Fadell is taking a joy ride with his electric go-kart project


According to an alleged Nest engineer a couple months back, the company is on deathwatch. Of course the official word from Fadell himself is that all the bad PR doesn’t represent the company or its culture, but the evidence suggests still that financially and culturally there are lots of problems.

Now, we learn today (via Fortune) that Tony Fadell, Nest’s CEO, has had a little passion project going on in the background. Co-founded with its CEO Dave Bell, Actev Motors makes the Arrow Smart-Kart, a smart first of its kind electric go-kart with app controls and a $600 price tag…

According to the report, this is just a passion project for Fadell, tying together his love for automobiles and parenting — born out memories of building soap box cars with his grandfather. Fadell says that Actev Motors is also considering more potential future products, but he didn’t say what might be coming in the future.

This pilot product, though, the Smart-Kart, which launched at the New York City’s Toy Fair this year, packs a lot of features:

An app connects to the vehicle via Wi-Fi for a wide range of controls, including adjusting maximum speeds (of up to 12 miles per hour), an emergency stop button, and a virtual “geofence” that can let parents control the range of the vehicle. The app also has some features meant for kids, including keeping tab of driving time, total distance, and speed.

All this comes as a report from The Information in March detailed in-depth Nest’s struggle as an Alphabet subsidiary and the apparent horror that was its acquisition of smart home security camera company Dropcam. Before ending his time at the company, Dropcam co-founder Greg Duffy told Nest CEO Tony Fadell that he runs the company like a “tyrant bureaucrat”. Fadell was dismissive of the accusations, but Duffy wasn’t going to let that slide.

The reasons for Fadell doing this project make perfect sense but as for the timing, he says he had to do it for his children before they grow up: “It had to materialize before they got older because I really wanted to do this for them,” Fadell told Fortune.

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Avatar for Stephen Hall Stephen Hall

Stephen is Growth Director at 9to5. If you want to get in touch, follow me on Twitter. Or, email at stephen (at) 9to5mac (dot) com, or an encrypted email at hallstephenj (at) protonmail (dot) com.