Luxury Speaker Start-Up Devialet Attracts $106 Million From Foxconn, Roc Nation, Sharp and Others

Billboard

Paris-based luxury speaker start-up Devialet has announced a strategic funding round aimed at expanding its tech to the automotive and media industries. The company says it raised €100 million ($106 million) from a batch of high-profile investors including electronics manufacturer Foxconn, carmaker Renault, Sharp (owned by Foxconn), Andy Rubin's Playground Global fund, Line parent Naver and Jay Z's Roc Nation.

Founded in 2007, Devialet is best known for two very high-end audio systems: the Expert, which bears a price too high even for its web store (upgrades to existing systems start at over $4,500), and the wireless Phantom, which begin at $1,990 apiece. "Phantom's ultra dense sound creates intense emotional experiences," the company promises of its uniquely designed, audiophile-targeted products.

"We are at the foot of Everest, we have the right equipment to get to the top," Quentin Sannié, CEO and cofounder of Devialet, told Le Figaro of the cash infusion on Monday. The company said in a separate statement that the new funding will be targeted for rolling out Devialet's technologies across the very industries of its new global investors, namely automotive (Renault), television (Sharp) and mobile web devices and streaming services. Jay Z's Tidal has already partnered with Phantom to offer more intuitive access using its Spark app.


The company also said it wants to put more money to research and development and expand upon its current retail strategy, which includes new flagship stores adding to the ones in Paris, London and NYC. In addition, the company wants to continue opening smaller "immersive" stores like the ones in Hong Kong and Singapore. A deal was struck in 2015 to sell the "budget" Phantom speakers in Apple retail stores.

"This fundraising marks a new stage in our incredible development towards being a global tech company and leader in our industry," said Sannié. "Our ambition is to be the pioneering role model of technology at the service of emotion throughout the world. We are extremely happy and proud to welcome the new investors, most of whom are entrepreneurs."

Sannié added, "Beyond enabling us to accelerate our development though additional funds, they will support our geographical influence, especially in Asia and the US. We have already initiated very promising common projects."

Playground's Andy Rubin, who created Android and worked at Google for years, said in a statement that he believes "Devialet is the most disruptive company in the audio business. It is my dream to work with Quentin and his team to change the way people appreciate media of all types."

This Series C round, which was led by Foxconn's investment arm Ginko Ventures, brings the total raised by Deviate to roughly $145 million to date, according to Crunchbase. Previous investors who did not participate this time include Groupe Arnault, Marc Simoncini and Zavier Niel.