Sonos boss John McFarlane steps down as firm fights Amazon Echo

Founder and CEO of Sonos, John McFarlane, has passed the CEO role to Patrick Spence after battling growing competition from Amazon Echo and Google Home.

McFarlane (pictured, right) founded the home-speaker firm in 2002.

In a departing blog post, he describes a year-long transition that started in 2016 with staff lay-offs as Sonos switched focus from free music consumers to paid subscribers, as well as introducing voice recognition.

“Patrick’s leadership comes at a magical time for sonos. The work we’re doing now will deliver meaningful experiences for music listening at home.”

john mcfarlane, sonos

“Patrick’s leadership comes at a magical moment for Sonos. Music has made the transition to streaming, leading with a handful of paid subscription services,” he explained.

“Add to that the advent of useful experiences with voice assistants in the home to complement the smartphone, tablet, watch and laptop in finding the right music, at any given time of your day.

“Here at Sonos, we all came to this epiphany differently and at different moments, but the work we’re doing now will deliver meaningful experiences for music listening at home.”

Amazon’s Echo device has proved a fast-growing competitor for Sonos with sales reaching 5.1 million in the U.S. over the course of two years, according to CIPR research.

Over Christmas, a record-setting number of devices from the Amazon Echo family were sold with sales up over 9x year-on-year.

Spence (pictured, left) joined Sonos in 2012 as Chief Commercial Officer before being named President in July last year.

Prior to that he spent 14 years at Blackberry where he ended as SVP and MD of Global Sales and Regional Marketing.

McFarlane will continue as a Sonos employee, focusing on mentoring and expanding Sonos’ commitment to STEM education, as well as “working within the music and tech industries to help create a start-up friendly ecosystem”.

He continued: “Music is a wonderfully unique and developing thing, making our mission the most motivational in the world.

“I can look ahead and see the role of Sonos, with the right experiences, partners, and focus, with a healthy future.

“In short, the future of the home music experience and the opportunity for Sonos has never been better. Never.”

Music Business Worldwide

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