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Layoffs at Sonos as company sets new priorities

By | Published on Thursday 10 March 2016


Wireless speaker maker Sonos has announced that an unconfirmed number of employees will be let go by the company as it shifts its business model a little.

Specifics of the rejig and downsizing are not known, but CEO John MacFarlane says his company’s priorities are now the delivery of streaming services through its speaker systems (as opposed to digital music stored on a local hard drive) and developing the potential of voice control.

In a blog post announcing all this, MacFarlane wrote: “Today, the entire music ecosystem is in transition – ultimately for the better – and so is Sonos. We have a good idea of how this will evolve over time, and we’ve never been more bullish on what it means for music fans. But we also know that to continue to innovate and bring compelling new experiences to market, we need to invest heavily against the opportunity”.

“Building a company capable of sustained innovation, steady growth and future vitality requires that we run the business profitably. We’re not chasing short-term gains or answering to impatient investors. Rather, we’re making a decision to substantially and confidently increase our investment in the future of music”.

“The short term – and very difficult – consequence of this decision is we’ve had to make some changes to our team. We do this with a heavy heart, as we are in the process of letting go of some Sonos employees who have played important roles getting us to this point. We wish them well, and we’re doing everything we can to make their transition as smooth as possible. As we look to the future there are two big areas that we’re leaning into: paid streaming services and voice control”.

On the voice control thing, he added: “We’re fans of what Amazon has done with Alexa and the Echo product line. Voice recognition isn’t new; today it’s nearly ubiquitous with Siri, OK Google, and Cortana. But the Echo found a sweet spot in the home and will impact how we navigate music, weather, and many, many other things as developers bring new ideas and more content to the Alexa platform”.

“Alexa/Echo is the first product to really showcase the power of voice control in the home” he goes on. “Its popularity with consumers will accelerate innovation across the entire industry. What is novel today will become standard tomorrow. Here again, Sonos is taking the long view in how best to bring voice-enabled music experiences into the home. Voice is a big change for us, so we’ll invest what’s required to bring it to market in a wonderful way”.