What's going on?
On Friday, Sonos, the maker of wireless smart speakers, became the latest tech company to announce it’s looking to “go public” (tweet this). Potential investors are turning up the volume – the company could be worth $3 billion.
What does this mean?
Sonos has built itself on smart, wireless speaker systems (that integrate with music streaming services like Spotify and Amazon Music) and has managed to get its products into nearly 7 million households around the world. Last year, it sold as many as 3.9 million devices, but still made a $14 million loss.
Now, Sonos is going through a bit of a change. Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are enabling more virtual assistant-type products and Sonos is responding by introducing new speakers for this market. Sales have been boosted and it now, finally, has profit in the bank thanks to these new releases – which, over time, are expected to be able to connect to Alexa and Siri.
Why should I care?
For markets: Sonos is looking to end the run of tech hardware IPO disappointments.
Despite its growth opportunities and turn to profit this year, Sonos has challenges it will need to overcome to make this a successful IPO. The US-China trade war threatens to dampen investor appetite for consumer electronics companies as tariffs can increase costs. Sonos has experienced delays and higher-than-expected costs when launching new products in the past and it faces competition from its own partners (e.g. Amazon). Fitbit and GoPro have both been high-profile disappointments after their respective IPOs, Sonos will be hoping it doesn’t meet the same fate.
The bigger picture: The IPO boom continues.
IPOs are on track to hit record numbers globally in 2018, with 120 companies raising over $35 billion so far this year in the US alone. Sonos follows Xiaomi and Adyen – both of which recently went public – as it looks to benefit from high valuations from stocks’ positive performance since 2017.