Bloomberg reports Bowers & Wilkins—the half century-old speaker maker—will soon be owned by a Eva Automation. The tiny startup (50 employees versus 1100 employees at B&W) belongs to Gideon Yu, a billionaire and former Facebook executive who happens to co-own the San Francisco 49ers.
The CEO of B&W—Joe Atkins—owns a majority stake in the company, so selling to Mr. Yu is his decision to make. Bloomberg news says it’s a done deal and the first products that merge technologies from the two companies should come out sometime in 2017. In a note posted on the Eva Automation website, Yu states he’s been a fan (and customer) of B&W for decades.
It was a mere six months ago that I was in NYC marveling at Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series Diamond lineup, a revamp of the company’s flagship speaker line that coincided with celebrating its 50th anniversary. The speakers were profoundly good, and by all accounts the launch was a success. My guess is this sale—unconventional as it is for such a small company to buy such a large one—occurred because B&W is well-positioned to grow as a brand.
Seems like just yesterday that I was in NYC for the B&W 800 Series D3 launch.
According to the Bloomberg article, Joe Atkins acknowledged that B&W did not have the in-house capability to make its networked audio products communicate with cloud-based services. It goes on to say that the company’s “most devoted customers” will likely feel consternation about this deal. However, Atkins notes that “it will be clear that this is exactly what Bowers & Wilkins should be doing.”
The official press release notes that “EVA Automation will integrate fully with Bowers & Wilkins’ unmatched acoustic engineering prowess by offering innovative A/V technologies and product vision that will enable the company to grow faster and further.”
While there’s no way to predict the future, it looks like this marriage is one the two companies enter willingly. The new entity will still be called Bowers & Wilkins, and Joe Atkins will be its CEO with Mr. Yu serving as chairman.