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Sonos Gets Ready for an IPO (EXCLUSIVE)

Connected-speaker maker Sonos is gearing up for a public offering, if its latest job postings are any indication. In recent weeks, the company began the search for applicants with public company experience to fill key legal and finance roles. One of the job listings also mention that Sonos is preparing its financial reporting to comply with rules for public companies.

A Sonos spokesperson declined to comment on the job listings, telling Variety: “We like where our business is and an IPO is something all tech companies think about.”

One of the roles that Sonos is looking for is that of a corporate controller, which is a newly-created position at the company. A job posting for the position includes a requirement that applicants have “current public company experience as a controller or assistance controller.”

Another requirement is even more specific, and requires “prior public accounting experience, preferably Big 4” — shorthand for the four major accounting companies: KPMG, ‎PricewaterhouseCoopers, ‎Deloitte, and ‎Ernst & Young, which handle accounting and audits for many public companies.

In its search for a new general counsel, Sonos is also stressing public company experience as a must have:

“The successful candidate will have prior experience as GC or deputy GC of a multi-billion dollar public company responsible for all legal matters (including corporate & other regulatory matters, board governance, legal aspects of M&A, legal aspects of commercial contracts, litigation & dispute resolution, privacy, employment contracts, global public policy, etc.).”

These requirements aren’t the only indicator that the company is getting ready to go public. The description of the corporate controller’s job duties also mentions that the company is in the process of implementing SOX 404 compliance. This refers to section 404 of the Sarbanes – Oxley Act, which Congress passed in 2002 to protect investors of public companies through better disclosures.

Section 404 requires companies to prove that their internal financial reporting is in order, and is widely seen as one of the most complicated and burdensome parts of the law. Becoming SOX 404 compliant costs real money, and private companies don’t generally go down this road unless they prepare to go public.

Sonos is a pioneer of internet-connected speakers, and more recently began to embrace voice control for its products as well. The company teamed up with Amazon to let Sonos users control their existing speakers with the help of an Amazon Echo, and released its own speaker with integrated microphones for voice control last year. Sonos has also begun to build out its own retail presence, and opened stores in New York, Shanghai, and London. Next week, it will open another store in Berlin.

Expanding its retail presence could be crucial to Sonos, as the company aims to compete with speakers from companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon with superior sound — something that is best experienced in person. However, establishing a retail footprint is expensive, and could force the company to raise new capital, with an IPO being one option for such a fundraise.

Sonos CEO Patrick Spence told Variety last year that the company was looking at an IPO as a possible next step: “We are considering whether an IPO would be the next best thing,” he said. “We are in a strong place, growing, profitable.”

It’s worth noting that companies often base their final decision on a possible public offering on the overall performance of public markets, which have been volatile in recent weeks due to fears over trade wars. Sonos is also likely paying close attention to the recent public listings of Spotify and Roku. If those stocks don’t fare well over the coming months, Sonos may pull the plug on any plans to go public.

But with the latest job listings, and the company’s move toward Sarbanes – Oxley compliance, it sure looks like Sonos is setting itself up for an impending IPO.

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