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SoundCloud Nearing Lifeline Deal With Private Equity Firms (Report)

SoundCloud is nearing a deal to sell stakes in the company to two private equity firms, Bloomberg reported Saturday, citing unidentified sources familiar with the matter. According to the report, the investment will help keep the lights on at the cash-strapped streaming service for “the foreseeable future.”

The two firms, which would be acquiring stakes separately, were not identified. Combined, the two private equity firms would own a majority of SoundCloud, the sources said, noting that the deals are “at an advanced stage” but could still unravel.

Reps for SoundCloud did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment or confirmation.

Shortly after the company laid off 40 percent of its staff and closed two offices early in July, a report in TechCrunch claimed that the company, which the founders warned early in the year may not have enough money to see it through the end of 2017, may not have enough cash to see it through the end of the summer.

SoundCloud responded with a statement in which it said in part: “There are a number of inaccuracies within the TechCrunch article. They seem to stem from a misinterpretation of information by one or two laid off employees during a recent all hands meeting … To clarify, SoundCloud is fully funded into the fourth quarter.”

Last week, Chance the Rapper issued a pair of tweets publicly supporting the company that initially seemed to indicate he would be providing some kind of financial sustenance, but a SoundCloud rep emphasized to Variety that his contribution was purely moral support. Hours later, a blog post from co-founder Alexander Ljung claimed the company was “safe.”

“Hey everyone, There’s an insane amount of noise about SoundCloud in the world right now,” the blog post reads in part. “And it’s just that, noise. The music you love on SoundCloud isn’t going away, the music you shared or uploaded isn’t going away, because SoundCloud is not going away. Not in 50 days, not in 80 days or anytime in the foreseeable future. Your music is safe … SoundCloud is here to stay.”

Founded in 2008 by Ljung and partner Eric Wahlforss, the platform was originally established as a site for DJs to upload their mixes and quickly became a favorite destination for all kinds of musicians, as well as labels seeking a fast and easy way to circulate music quickly. Yet licensing and royalty challenges forced the company to become a more traditional streaming service and it has struggled in its efforts to encourage users to opt for its paid premium model — a crowded field that even Apple Music has found daunting.

And while in March the company confirmed the latest in a series of financial infusions, $70 million in debt funding from Ares Capital, Kreos Capital, and Davidson Technology, it incurred a 51 million Euro loss in 2015 on revenue of 21.1 million Euros. In January, Ljung expressed concern that “risks and uncertainties may cause the company to run out of cash … and would require [SoundCloud] to raise additional funds which are not currently planned” — concerns that were partially, although certainly not completely, allayed by the March debt-funding infusion. The company has also been hobbled by a long series of executive departures.

The new funding arrived after earlier reports that SoundCloud was considering a fire-sale exit because it hadn’t been able to raise the necessary money to continue its operations. It acknowledged the need for new capital, but denied that it was getting ready to sell for pennies on the dollar. “We are actively speaking with a variety of potential investors and other strategic partners,” SoundCloud told Variety at the time.

SoundCloud had raised $70 million from Twitter in June 2016, after raising $35 million more of debt financing in January 2016.

 

 

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