On IPO day, smart speaker maker Sonos reveals ‘explosive growth’ in Seattle office

The Sonos team on the morning of the company’s IPO. (Sonos Photo)

Sonos’ engineering center in Seattle has grown to nearly 120 people, emerging as the smart-speaker maker’s fastest-growing office and a linchpin of its strategy as newly public company.

Executives with the Santa Barbara, Calif.-based company disclosed the number to GeekWire after Sonos made its initial public offering of stock Thursday morning. Sonos is trading at $20/share as of early afternoon Pacific time, an increase of more than 30 percent from its opening price of $15/share.

Sonos opened its Seattle office in 2015, with about 10 people initially. In 2017, the company had 70 people in the office, at the Bullitt Center in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. GeekWire took a tour of the office in 2017, when Sonos had just added another half floor of the building to total 13,000 square feet and room for 100 people.

At the time, the Seattle office hosted mainly developers, with some other employees in a variety of roles.

The office has experienced “explosive growth” over that time period, successfully tapping into the region’s engineering talent pool, said Anna Fraser, Sonos vice president of people strategy and operations. Among other advantages, the office has been able to leverage its proximity to Amazon headquarters as the company works on integrations of the Alexa voice assistant into Sonos speakers.

“Seattle was a bit of an experiment and a gamble that we opened a little more than three years ago now, and it has more than tripled in size,” Fraser said in an interview this morning.

Antoine Leblond

The engineering office is led by Antoine Leblond, Sonos vice president of software, who spent 25 years at Microsoft in positions including Windows vice president. “The impetus for starting something in Seattle was a bet on the quality and the size of the the software workforce in Seattle, and that’s been great for us,” Leblond said.

Since opening, Sonos shares have soared 24 percent, reaching a high of $18.71 per share. That would give the company a market value of about $1.8 billion.

As part of its IPO filings, Sonos reported that 19 million products have been registered in 6.9 million households globally. In 2017, Sonos reported revenue of $992.5 million, up 10 percent from the last year, and a loss of $14.2 million.

Since 2005, Sonos has introduced 13 products into market, reporting that 93 percent of units shipped since 2005 are still in use. The most recent release was the Sonos Beam, the $399 smart speaker for music and TV. The speaker, introduced in July, has Amazon Alexa integration, with Google Assistant in the works. Sonos is also working on partnerships with Apple — via AirPlay 2, a software update released in July, users can stream music from Apple devices and use Siri with compatible speakers.

Here’s a picture of members of the Sonos Seattle team in Times Square, with Leblond referring a “Save the Showbox” shirt, referring to the iconic Seattle music venue that is slated to be torn down for a new development. The picture features a photobomb by producer Giles Martin, who works with Sonos, the son of the late Beatles producer George Martin.

Photo via Sonos.

To mark the occasion, Sonos worked with Nasdaq to redesign the iconic opening bell. Instead of that classic one toned clang, Sonos created a bell with some one hundred different sounds layered together to sound like, well, money.

Note: Numbers updated to reflect current trading price at 12:36 p.m.

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