July 21, 2024
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Sonos announces layoffs


The 47,000-square-foot property at 25 E. Mason St. in Santa Barbara has been sold for a reported $17.5 million, marking the largest office and R&D property deals in the city in seven years. The entire building is leased for 10 years by music equipment maker Sonos. (Alex Drysdale / Business TImes photo)

Santa Barbara audio technology company Sonos, the fast-growing startup that is now a major downtown employer, has begun layoffs as it refocuses on voice controls.

Sonos founder and CEO John MacFarlane made the announcement late March 9 in a blog post on the privately-held company’s website. The number of layoffs was not disclosed.

“We are in the process of letting go of some Sonos employees who have played important roles getting us to this point,” MacFarlane said in the post. “We wish them well, and we’re doing everything we can to make their transition as smooth as possible.”

Sonos pioneered flexible, wireless streaming of music through home systems that have won rave reviews from audiophiles. It once tangled with Apple over its controller technology but now faces increased competition from Amazon Echo, a voice-controlled speaker that can play music, order users Uber rides and tell users the weather.

The music streaming that Sonos pioneered is now common but MacFarlane sees the company’s next great opportunity in voice-controlled devices like the Echo.

“Sonos is taking the long view in how best to bring voice-enabled music experiences into the home.” MacFarlane said. “Voice is a big change for us, so we’ll invest what’s required to bring it to market in a wonderful way.”

Layoffs at Sonos could have a ripple effect on downtown Santa Barbara, where the company leases more space than any other private employer. It has hundreds of employees and has been a key player in the evolution of the South Coast into a technology center.

Sonos might have gone public and achieved status as a regional “unicorn” valued at more than $1 billion, but MacFarlane instead sold a substantial interest to private equity firms, allowing the company to remain privately held.

The company has mounted a highly visible advertising campaign, with NFL football games as the prime placement vehicle for its television advertising.

-contact Philip Joens at pjoens@pacbiztimes.com