Bowers & Wilkins, an audio gear brand that has been familiar to millions for decades, has been bought out by EVA Automation, a two-year-old company that has never released a product. Yet the old company’s name and CEO will remain. You’re not going to hear about a weirder deal today.
EVA Automation is the company founded by Gideon Yu, currently an advisor at Formation 8 (formerly, but not currently at Khosla Ventures, as I wrote mistakenly earlier), but well known from his involvement in various top-tier funding rounds at major tech companies, from Square to Facebook. The mission at EVA is to “reimagining the audio/video experience by making products that will change how people interact and think about the home.”
That’s proving difficult, it seems: EVA has no products to speak of. Solution: buy a company that does!
Actually, strange as it may sound, the deal seems to suit several parties. Bowers & Wilkins is an old-school manufacturer, and a partnership with a bleeding-edge automation company could make for, as they say, powerful market synergy. And as mentioned, EVA needs a product.
“We will have much, much more to announce when the time is right about our vision and our products,” Yu wrote in a post on the EVA website. “In the meantime, we will continue to work hard on developing a truly special, highly integrated, and easy to use home A/V experience that I know you’ll love.”
Not only that, but it sounds like Caledonia Investments was ready to jump ship; it sold its 20 percent stake for $24M and change as part of the deal.
As it would probably result in a mutiny if a baby company that’s never shipped anything took over management of a decades-old industry mainstay, Bowers & Wilkins CEO Joe Atkins will keep his role, though he’ll by necessity be parting with a considerable amount of his 60 percent share in the old company. Yu will be Executive Chairman.
It’s an odd deal but perhaps one that will lead to prosperity for all involved. Though it may be a while before you see the results of this partnership.