by Dan Moren
Sonos CEO steps down
Nick Wingfield, writing in the New York Times:
Mr. MacFarlane said he had planned to resign as chief executive earlier, citing his wife’s bout with breast cancer and his aging parents as factors. But last year he delayed his plans when Amazon’s Echo speaker unexpectedly began to eat into sales of Sonos speakers.
“I fell into that trap where I’ve been watching voice recognition for years,” Mr. MacFarlane said. “I tried Echo in the beginning and wrote it off. I had too many distractions at that time. I wasn’t playing at the level I should have been playing at in all frankness.”
On the one hand, I’m surprised that the Echo is cutting into Sonos’s sales; they seem like very different products. On the other, the Echo does basically provide on demand audio that’s as easy–if not easier–to use than the Sonos. Frankly, I think they’re two great tastes that taste great together, and given the impending Sonos-Echo integration, I wouldn’t be shocked if, say, Amazon decided it wanted to acquire Sonos.
As for MacFarlane stepping down, I don’t think it’s necessarily a key indication of the state of the company (despite layoffs last year), since it sounded like the plan had been in the works for a while. I’ve bought two Sonos speakers in the last year, and I’m really enjoying them; it’s a product that deserves to stick around.