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Sonos Cuts Jobs

Company Shifts Focus to Voice Controls, Music Streaming

S.B.-based speaker company Sonos announced Wednesday its plans to layoff an undisclosed number of employees and to refocus on voice controls and music streaming.
Paul Wellman

In a Wednesday blog post on his company’s website, Sonos CEO John MacFarlane announced the Santa Barbara-based wireless speaker company has begun laying off an undisclosed number of employees and shifting its focus to voice controls and music streaming.

In 2002, MacFarlane cofounded the wireless stereo company with Craig Shelburne, Tom Cullen, and Trung Mai. Out of its downtown headquarters (spread between five properties), Sonos employs more than 400 people. Worldwide — at its offices in Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, and London — that number hovers around 1,200. Sonos announced in 2014 its revenue for the past year was $535 million. Last month, the company launched a partnership with paid streaming service Apple Music.

Citing Amazon’s Echo and Alexa voice-controlled speaker system, MacFarlane’s post looked to voice-activated speakers and streaming platforms like Spotify and Google Play Music as the future of the music industry. He expressed the necessity of “short term — and very difficult — consequence[s]” to the company’s redirection.

“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,” wrote MacFarlane in the entry posted late Wednesday. “We wish them well, and we’re doing everything we can to make their transition as smooth as possible.”

Without specifying numbers, departments, or locations, MacFarlane ended the post writing, “These last few weeks have been tough for everyone at Sonos. We’re a tight bunch, so saying goodbye is particularly painful. But I know that making these changes is the right thing to do for Sonos as we look to the future.” A Sonos spokesperson declined to comment on the number of layoffs.

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