Entertainment

Sonos buys Bluetooth audio startup to build better headphones

T2 Software was working on the new Bluetooth LE Audio standard; Sonos appears to be looking for an ad agency for its headphones launch.

Sonos staff during IPO

Sonos went public in 2018. Now it’s embarking on “one of the most ambitious projects in [its] history.”

Photo: Sonos

Sonos has acquired Louisville, Kentucky-based Bluetooth audio startup T2 Software, Protocol has been able to confirm. T2 Software had been working on implementations of Bluetooth LE Audio, a new standard that promises higher-quality audio over Bluetooth while also optimizing device battery usage — both key to building next-generation wireless headphones.

A Sonos spokesperson confirmed the acquisition, but declined to share any further details. “Occasionally, we will acquire teams, talent, and/or technology that augment our existing and future product roadmap,” the spokesperson said via email.

The company has yet to publicly announce its plans to branch out into the wearables market, but a recent LinkedIn posting suggests a launch may come later this year.

T2 Software was founded in 2018, and quietly joined Sonos in November. The startup was founded by Tim Reilly, a veteran Bluetooth expert who sold his previous company to Qualcomm. After working on Qualcomm’s wearables portfolio for a little over two years, Reilly founded T2 Software to focus on Bluetooth Audio. One of the T2 Software’s first clients was headphone-maker Bose.

More recently, T2 Software had been working on implementations of Bluetooth LC3, a dedicated audio codec for the new Bluetooth LE Audio standard. “The codec is designed to achieve high-quality audio at much lower data rates than the current [codec] used in Bluetooth audio solutions today, thus achieving lower power consumption,” T2 Software explained on its website, which has been taken down following the Sonos acquisition.

The codec also supports a number of advanced features that are not part of the current Bluetooth specs. For instance, it can send out multiple synchronized audio streams to headphones at the same time for better stereo pairing and more seamless integration of voice assistants.

Another new feature: Bluetooth LC3 supports broadcasting audio signals to multiple endpoints, which would allow people to stream the same music to multiple headphones, much like Sonos currently streams audio over Wi-Fi to multiple speakers.

Sonos has been quietly working on a headphones product for a number of years. Bloomberg first reported about the company’s efforts in this space in 2019, and a patent filing from 2020 revealed further details about the product.

Now, it looks like Sonos is getting closer to launching its headphones. Last week, Sonos VP of Marketing Pete Pedersen revealed on LinkedIn that the company was looking for a new ad agency to help with “one of the most ambitious projects in [its] history.”

Prospective agency partners were told that they should have experience in “launching a new brand/product/service in an established category,” “creating a new category for an established brand,” and “targeting a new audience/consumer segment” — all things that would match an expansion into the headphone space.

Sonos’ spokesperson declined to comment on any connection between the search and the company’s product roadmap.

Policy

How 'Zuck Bucks' saved the 2020 election — and fueled the Big Lie

The true story of how Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s $419 million donation became the 2020 election’s most enduring conspiracy theory.

Mark Zuckerberg is smack in the center of one of the 2020 election’s multitudinous conspiracies.

Illustration: Mike McQuade; Photos: Getty Images

If Mark Zuckerberg could have imagined the worst possible outcome of his decision to insert himself into the 2020 election, it might have looked something like the scene that unfolded inside Mar-a-Lago on a steamy evening in early April.

There in a gilded ballroom-turned-theater, MAGA world icons including Kellyanne Conway, Corey Lewandowski, Hope Hicks and former president Donald Trump himself were gathered for the premiere of “Rigged: The Zuckerberg Funded Plot to Defeat Donald Trump.”

Keep Reading Show less
Issie Lapowsky

Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.

Sponsored Content

Why the digital transformation of industries is creating a more sustainable future

Qualcomm’s chief sustainability officer Angela Baker on how companies can view going “digital” as a way not only toward growth, as laid out in a recent report, but also toward establishing and meeting environmental, social and governance goals.

Three letters dominate business practice at present: ESG, or environmental, social and governance goals. The number of mentions of the environment in financial earnings has doubled in the last five years, according to GlobalData: 600,000 companies mentioned the term in their annual or quarterly results last year.

But meeting those ESG goals can be a challenge — one that businesses can’t and shouldn’t take lightly. Ahead of an exclusive fireside chat at Davos, Angela Baker, chief sustainability officer at Qualcomm, sat down with Protocol to speak about how best to achieve those targets and how Qualcomm thinks about its own sustainability strategy, net zero commitment, other ESG targets and more.

Keep Reading Show less
Chris Stokel-Walker

Chris Stokel-Walker is a freelance technology and culture journalist and author of "YouTubers: How YouTube Shook Up TV and Created a New Generation of Stars." His work has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian and Wired.

Fintech

From frenzy to fear: Trading apps grapple with anxious investors

After riding the stock-trading wave last year, trading apps like Robinhood have disenchanted customers and jittery investors.

Retail stock trading is still an attractive business, as shown by the news that crypto exchange FTX is dipping its toes in the market by letting some U.S. customers trade stocks.

Photo: Lam Yik/Bloomberg via Getty Images

For a brief moment, last year’s GameStop craze made buying and selling stocks cool, even exciting, for a new generation of young investors. Now, that frenzy has turned to fear.

Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev pointed to “a challenging macro environment” marked by rising prices and interest rates and a slumping market in a call with analysts explaining his company’s lackluster results. The downturn, he said, was something “most of our customers have never experienced in their lifetimes.”

Keep Reading Show less
Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers crypto and fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Google Voice at (925) 307-9342.

Enterprise

Broadcom is reportedly in talks to acquire VMware

It hasn't been long since it left the ownership of Dell Technologies.

Photo: Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Broadcom is said to be in discussions with VMware to buy the cloud computing company for as much as $50 billion.

Keep Reading Show less
Jamie Condliffe

Jamie Condliffe ( @jme_c) is the executive editor at Protocol, based in London. Prior to joining Protocol in 2019, he worked on the business desk at The New York Times, where he edited the DealBook newsletter and wrote Bits, the weekly tech newsletter. He has previously worked at MIT Technology Review, Gizmodo, and New Scientist, and has held lectureships at the University of Oxford and Imperial College London. He also holds a doctorate in engineering from the University of Oxford.

Podcasts

Should startups be scared?

Stock market turmoil is making VCs skittish. Could now be the best time to start a company?

Dark times could be ahead for startups.

Photo by Startaê Team on Unsplash

This week, we break down why Elon Musk is tweeting about the S&P 500's ESG rankings — and why he might be right to be mad. Then we discuss how tech companies are failing to prevent mass shootings, and why the new Texas social media law might make it more difficult for platforms to be proactive.

Then Protocol's Biz Carson, author of the weekly VC newsletter Pipeline, joins us to explain the state of venture capital amidst plunging stocks and declining revenues. Should founders start panicking? The answer might surprise you.

Keep Reading Show less
Caitlin McGarry

Caitlin McGarry is the news editor at Protocol.

Latest Stories
Bulletins