In April of 2011 HTC was second only to Apple in U.S. smartphone sales. Think about that, a little over two years ago HTC was #2 in U.S. smartphone sales, as the “other guy” in the Apple vs. ? conversation. Since then, its shares have lost nearly 90 percent of their value and partners are jumping ship faster than the Titanic. Beats Electronics LLC, the creator of Beats by Dre headphones, is looking to buy out its Asian partner HTC.
HTC Corp. still owns 25 percent of Beats By Dre, but the founders, music mogul Jimmy Iovine and American hip-hop producer and artist Andre Young, better known as Dr. Dre, are looking to cut ties from HTC and broaden the company’s business from headphones to include speakers, audio systems in cars and consumer electronics and a soon-to-be-launched online streaming music service. The gist is pretty simple: Beats By Dre wants HTC gone so it can bring in a new investor that can provide it with fresh funds for growth in these new industries.
It’s a big move for Beats, but a potential loss for HTC. And this isn’t the first HTC-investment-gone-bad story we’ve heard in recent months. Here is a short list of bad investments and acquisitions for HTC:
OnLive is a cloud gaming company which aims to bring gaming to every home, even if gamers don’t own a gaming console. In February 2011, HTC purchased 5.3 million shares of OnLive stock for $7.50 per share, which amounted to $40 million. A competitor, Gaikai being bought by Sony, “assets restructuring,” and being purchased back by the original investor Lauder Partners later — HTC now has $0 invested in OnLive, a $40 million loss.
- S3 Graphics
HTC acquired S3 Graphics from VIA Semiconductor for $300 million to improve their smartphone graphics in July of 2011. But analysts stated that the acquisition was more of a patent buy, as they also used S3’s patents in their battle against Apple — (remember at this time (2011) HTC was #2 to Apple.) HTC has yet to win a patent suit against Apple for the patents they acquired in the deal, and the $300 million investment is looking to be an egregious error.
- Beats By Dre
What initially looked like a strategic partnership that was a huge win for Beats By Dre, now looks like a floundering partnership in the reverse. Beats By Dre is trying to shed HTC. Its 25.1 percent majority shares it still owns in Beats By Dre might be the best bargaining chip HTC has in recooping any of the money its lost in bad investments, acquisitions and partnerships since 2011.