Sonos Radises $135 Million For Digital Living Room
Some major investors appear to be betting that living rooms are finally ready for digital music. Sonos, the maker of digital music listening equipment for the home, has raised $135 million in a round led by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Redpoint Ventures and Elevation Partners, according to multiple reports.
The reports say $90 million of the $135 million of fresh funding will allow employees and previous investor BV Capital to cash out. The company had previously raised money from Index Ventures as well. The remaining $45 million will help Sonos expand its home audio business. David Kerko from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Fred Anderson from Elevation Partners have joined the Sonos board of directors.
The funding is a bet that digital music will no longer be confined mainly to PCs and portable devices. Sonos builds wireless home entertainment systems that make digital music easy. Most systems are comprised of an Internet-connected bridge that transmits audio to a range of wireless speakers. Sonos also sells a wireless amplifier that connects to non-Sonos speakers.
Sonos users can stream their personal music libraries and connect to a range of popular digital music services, including Sirius XM, Pandora, Last.fm, Rhapsody, Spotify, Mog, Rdio and Slacker. Music is controlled via applications for PC and Mac as well as iPad, iPhone/iPod and Android.
Alternatives to Sonos are connected TVs and set-top boxes that stream music from a wide variety of services and play through a home entertainment system. But Sonos should have a large addressable market since music lovers have showed that well designed, single-use devices are sometimes preferable to more cumbersome multi-use devices. ( All Things D, Bits)
Eventbrite Hits $1 Billion in Sales
Online ticketing company Eventbrite announced Monday it has sold $1 billion from the sale of nearly 63 million tickets in just over four years.
"In January of 2009, we were at $100 million," said co-founder Kevin Hartz in a statement." In December of 2010, we were at $400 million. Now, in the middle of 2012, with several international launches under our belt, and the At The Door mobile box office in the field, we're celebrating $1 billion in our users' success."
The top five event types for ticket sales have been conferences, classes, fundraisers, concerts and social events. Eventbrite's top markets have been the United States, the U.K., Canada, Australia and the Netherlands. In 2011 alone, events were created in over 170 countries. However, not all events listed at the site generate revenue because Eventbrite can be used free for free events. ( Eventbrite blog)
Songza Reaches One Million iOs Downloads in Ten Days -- The Next Big Thing?
The tech press loves next big things. Last summer it was Turntable.fm. Now it looks like Internet radio service Songza is this summer's next bit thing in digital music. On Monday news spread that the service topped one million iOS downloads in just ten days. The Songza iPad app was released Thursday, June 7 and quickly became the top free iPad app in the U.S.
GigaOm calls Songza "mobile's newest star." A headline at Business Insider proclaims it "changes the way you discover music." The buzz has moved beyond tech blogs -- even Reuters wrote about it on Monday. All this attention has boosted consumer awareness of Songza. Searches for Songza at Google have spiked in mid-June, according to Google Trends.
There are business implications in Songza's sudden rise. And as I mentioned last week, Songza's upward trajectory caused Richard Greenfield, an equity analyst at BTIG, to warn that Pandora Media was clearly susceptible to competitive threats. Shares of Pandora dropped about 12% over the next two days, although they rebounded 7.1% to $11.47 on Monday on the heels of an upgrade to "overweight" from "market perform" by Albert Fried.
People seem to enjoy Songza because it's different than other Internet radio services. It offers playlists based on moods and interests, not artists and albums. A new-ish feature called Concierge helps users pick music at a given time of day ("Still Waking Up" and "Work or Study" were two options for late Monday morning). It's sort of like Spotify in that everything is based on playlists, but unlike Spotify it doesn't depend too much on Facebook and social features.
But for a moment let's keep Songza in perspective, shall we? iHeartRadio reached 10 million users in ten months. TuneIn claims to have 30 million users. Pandora has over 53 million active users. And history has taught us that next big things don't always work out. It was about a year ago that people were freaking out over a new social music service called Turntable.fm. The site sparked a short-lived revolution. Once threatened, Pandora and the other services went about their business. There will always be another next big thing. Songza seems to have the mettle to live out the current hype, but check back next summer.