Silicon Valley start-up Eva Automation purchased high-end British home-audio company Bowers & Wilkins.
Eva Automation was founded in 2014 to build multiroom-A/V products and controls. The purchase includes the Bowers & Wilkins, Rotel and Classe Audio brands.
Joe Atkins, the former majority owner and chairman of Bowers & Wilkins, will become CEO of the combined companies, which will take on the Bowers & Wilkins name. Atkins will also take a “significant equity stake” in the combined companies, Eva said.
Eva Automation was co-founded by three entrepreneurs, including chairman Gideon Yu, a former Facebook and YouTube executive, with investments from tech executives and investment fund Formation 8, which invested in Oculus before it was purchased by Facebook. Yu, who was Eva’s chairman and CEO, becomes executive chairman of the combined companies.
Eva was founded to develop high-quality multiroom A/V products that would be easy to use and set up and be controlled from a single integrated interface, Yu told TWICE. That continues to be Eva’s goal, but Eva decided it could “accelerate our mission” by partnering with a “more established super-high-quality brand,” Yu explained. “We can’t do it alone as a stand-alone start-up company” because of competition in the CE industry, he said. Yu said he talked “to a lot” of audio companies in the process of choosing a partner.
All new products will be sold under the Bowers & Wilkins brand, none under the Eva Automation brand.
“This is a story of growth and investment in their audio products,” Yu told TWICE. The acquisition will “take the best of Bowers & Wilkins and Silicon Valley” to drive Bowers & Wilkins growth, he added.
The new Bowers & Wilkins will maintain the quality of B&W products as well as the “expertise and experience” of B&W, he said. The new compay plans no outsourcing of B&W manufacturing and no change in product positioning or distribution strategies, Yu said.
In a post on Eva’s website, Yu had this to say:
“Since I founded EVA Automation two years ago, we have been working hard to create fantastic home A/V user experiences. When it was time to seek out partners for our journey ahead, Bowers & Wilkins was unquestionably our #1 choice, and after I met Joe and his team, it was immediately clear that we share the same long term product vision and sincere passion for home entertainment.”
He continued, “One of the most important parts of our acquisition is that Joe is maintaining a significant equity stake in our combined company and will be joining our board of directors, further aligning all of our interests.
We will have much, much more to announce when the time is right about our vision and our products. In the meantime, we will continue to work hard on developing a truly special, highly integrated, and easy-to-use home A/V experience that I know you’ll love.”
Bowers & Wilkins was founded in 1966 by John Bowers and Roy Wilkins, who started the company by hand-assembling speaker systems for local clients in Worthing, West Sussex, England, from the back of an electrical store that they ran.
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