Carl Pei, the young and popular co-founder of smartphone brand OnePlus, has (somewhat) announced his next venture, and it will dabble in the personal audio space. A report on the matter by Wired UK has revealed a spatter of details about it, including its already-raised $7 million seed funding from an all-star investor cast that includes Tony Fadell, often called the “father of the iPod”. While Pei holds back on the exact details, the venture will largely involve the personal audio space, and will involve hardware launches. For those who have observed Pei through his initial years until now, this would mark a return for the ex-OnePlus man to his natural arena.
What will remain to be seen, though, is whether Pei’s new venture would have the kind of impact that OnePlus had on the world of smartphones. According to Wired UK, the business will involve hardware launches, but “also a lot more than that”, in Pei’s own words. While it isn’t instantly clear what the “lot more” would stand for, free speculations tip the scales towards the venture including some sort of a streaming experience, or perhaps even a deeper association with music. In some ways, what Pei’s project sounds like can be a cross between Sonos, Tidal, Spotify and other companies of note. This, though, is purely speculative, since Pei doesn’t particularly mention anything about catering to an audiophile audience, or focus on high resolution audio only.
Then, there is the list of investors. This includes ex-Apple VP Tony Fadell (the man who’s also colloquially credited with building the iPod), Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin, PCH founder-CEO Liam Casey, Product Hunt CEO Josh Buckley, Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave, and Casey Neistat – one of the earliest and most noted YouTube vloggers. There is a clear pattern here. Fadell, for instance, has the experience and vision that had him build the iPod – a piece of personal audio hardware that may not have been the first portable MP3 player in the world, but undoubtedly one that told you that you really need to buy it.
Twitch’s Lin specialises with a platform that has created its niche in the content streaming space, without competing with the giants. PCH’s Casey brings in a resolute product design experience that will unsurprisingly be vital towards the venture’s hardware efforts, and similar experience also comes in with Product Hunt’s Buckley. Cosgrave, meanwhile, manages what is known as the world’s largest tech conference, and his experience in the present state of the global technology market can prove vital for a young entrepreneur like Pei.
Pei states that 2021 will be a major year for his new venture, which is by when we would expectedly have a name to put to it, and products and services to look at as well. While a generous amount of hype will be expected for sure, what would be interesting to see is how Pei manages to single out a niche this time, and target it the way he did at OnePlus. While he had Pete Lau leading the business and hence played the perfect spokesperson to him, Pei’s second venture may be a trickier one to ace than what he achieved with OnePlus.