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Neil Young’s Pono Struggles With Funding, Searches for New CEO

Neil Young’s music tech startup Pono is struggling with funding issues, which is slowing down the company’s international expansion, the rock legend revealed in a Facebook post. “We are trying to set up stores in multiple countries and are restricted by a lack off resources,” Young wrote, adding that Pono wants to expand to Canada, the U.K. and Germany: “As soon as we have the funds, those stores will open. We wish it could be faster than that.”

Young launched Pono with a Kickstarter campaign in early 2014, raising more than $6 million for the company’s portable HD music player on the crowdfunding platform. Earlier this year, Pono expanded sales of the player to select retail stores, and Young said that the company has sold “tens of thousands of players,” as well as hundreds of thousands of HD music tracks through its music download store.

He also said that running Pono “hasn’t been easy.” Young has been serving as the company’s official CEO ever since it parted ways with prior CEO John Hamm a little over a year ago. The company has been looking for a new CEO for some time. Said Young: “We have no proven business leader at the head of our company, but the search continues for one who could do it to our liking and understand what our goal is and how big it is. We are still looking.”

Young said in the past that he doesn’t envision Pono to make hardware forever, and instead would like to license its technology to others. However, in this new Facebook post, he hinted at the possibility of Pono making or partnering on headphones and loudspeakers in the future.

Last month, Young made headlines when he removed most of his music from streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, arguing that streaming music services featured the worst audio quality “in the history of broadcasting or any other form of distribution.”

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