Sonos, the developers of a sexy, high-end wireless home audio system, has raised $135 million in funding led by private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. Previous investors Redpoint Ventures and Elevation Partners also contributed to the round, bringing the company’s total funding to just under $200 million.
As part of the round, KKR’s David Kerko, Elevation Managing Director Fred Anderson, and Rhode Island School of Design President John Maeda will be joining the company’s board of directors. The participation of Elevation’s Avie Tevanian and Fred Anderson in the investment is of particular note, as both are former Apple executives, with Anderson being the former CFO.
Many consumer electronics startups have gone the way of the Dodo in Silicon Valley, but Sonos has been able to survive for almost 10 years now by taking a page from Apple’s playbook, focusing intensely on design and detail and developing both hardware and software itself. According to the New York Times, Sonos saw about $250 million in revenues last year, and is now streaming music into more than one million rooms.
Of the $135 million raised as part of Sonos’ sixth round of financing, $45 million will be allocated to the expansion of its home audio business, while the remaining $90 million will allow previous investors to cash out their positions in the startup.
The new capital comes on the heels of some big hires over the last year, as Sonos scooped up Robbie Bach, a 22-year veteran of Microsoft and the former head of its Xbox division and just last month stole RIM’s Head of Global Sales.
Sonos also recently announced the addition of a wireless subwoofer to its product roster to bring a little bass to party. The sub adds to its line of smart speakers (like Play:3) that connect to a user’s home audio system to stream your smooth jazz from iTunes, Spotify, and a bunch of other web music services. With the addition of Sonos’ sub, the company now really offers a full range of audio players, and its controller app, which acts as your music system’s magic wand, is available on Android, iPhone, and iPad.
It’s great to see a small consumer electronics company finding traction based on a well-designed, smart product — without spending millions on advertising. And some big capital and validation from big investors to boot.