Sony Corp. is reportedly exploring a sale of Gracenote, a subsidiary business that operates a database covering 180 million tracks and whose audio recognition technology is embedded in various mobile devices and music services including Apple Inc.'s iTunes.
The company hired Silicon Valley dealmaker Frank Quattrone to explore divestiture options, according to Bloomberg, which broke the news. Bloomberg noted that a sale could close by the end of this year.
Sony spokesman Mack Araki declined to comment on the report, adding that, Sony "is constantly evaluating our operations to maximize profitability and efficiency." Gracenote's spokesperson, Sunok Pak, also would not comment.
Since taking the helm of Sony last year, Kazuo Hirai has aggresively restructured the company, focusing the company's efforts on profitable ventures and paring back businesses that either lose money or that no longer fit into the company's more narrowly focused priorities. In its past fiscal year ended March 31, Sony sold off shares in M3 Inc., a medical technology company, parts of its chemical products businesses and two office buildings, one in Tokyo and its 550 Madison Ave. building in New York. The sales brought in $2.5 billion in net cash.
It's unclear how much Gracenote will fetch, or whether Sony will decide to retain a share in the Emeryville, Calif., company, whose technology is integrated with Sony's devices and entertainment services. Bloomberg noted that Gracenote has annual revenues between $100 million and $200 million, but did not specify whether the company was profitable.
Sony purchased Gracenote for $260 million in 2008. Hirai has resisted divesting Sony's core entertainment business, which includes Sony Music, Sony/ATV, Sony Pictures Television, among other assets.