What happens when a company gives a leadership role to someone who was a leader at Apple?
Apple Inc. (AAPL) is known for producing great products, like the iPod. Now Google Inc. (GOOG) with its acquisition of Nest Labs Inc. and its Apple alumni founder Tony Fadell, is hoping it produces great leaders who can replicate that success as well.
It’s a gamble that has proved disappointing for companies from Palm Inc. to J.C. Penney Co.
Fadell, who oversaw development of Apple’s iPod, was a star attraction in Google’s $3.2 billion purchase of home-management startup Nest. Just as Apple’s music player sparked the company’s shift from a niche computer maker into dominance in mobile devices, Nest may help Google push its software and services into a new generation of connected household items.
Fadell will have to break the run of ex-Apple executives who have yet to replicate the iPhone maker’s success at their new employers. Managers at Apple — distinguished by its secretive culture and narrow focus on a few products — don’t necessarily flourish at companies with more traditional and cooperative structures.
“Apple is not known for producing leaders — it produces products,” said Ram Charan, a management consultant who has acted as an adviser to Jack Welch, former General Electric Co. chairman and chief executive officer, and Ivan Seidenberg, former chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications Inc.