SMS Audio has suspended operations, a former company executive confirmed.
The headphones manufacturer, helmed by rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, no longer has an operating website, and it has not posted to Facebook or Twitter since April. Although its phone number is operating, it is not connecting to any departments nor accepting voicemail.
50 Cent filed for bankruptcy in July 2015. A spokesperson told TWICE at the time that “SMS Audio is a stand-alone entity, and this news does not affect the company.”
Prior to SMS Audio, 50 Cent was also part owner of Sleek Audio, which he now reportedly owes more than $17 million after its partnership soured. He acquired KoNo Enterprises in 2011 from Brian Nohe, who went on to become SMS Audio’s CEO.
Jake Nohe, formerly operations director, lists on his LinkedIn profile that he left the company in April.
Although SMS was one of a number of headphones companies with a high-profile name attached in what was deemed to be an attempt to mimic the success seen by Beats Electronics—see also Soul Electronics and its now-absent Ludacris line — SMS seemed to paving its own way with a series of high-profile partnerships and licensing deals. In addition to its partnership with 50 Cent, SMS Audio also worked with Intel to develop the first biometric earphones, and the brand had licensing deals with Disney, Lucasfilm and Adidas.
Said Brian Nohe in a September 2014 interview with TWICE: “People like to compare us to Beats, and in some ways that’s very flattering to be compared to Beats. They did a wonderful job of developing a company, but we’re not trying to duplicate. We have our own vision and strategy, and we will win it in our time and our own way.”