British instrument-maker Roli has received new investment from tech giant Sony, through the latter’s VC arm Sony Innovation Fund. CEO Roland Lamb told Bloomberg that the deal is a “significant investment and relationship for us”.
While Roli isn’t saying how much Sony invested, TechCrunch notes that before this deal, Roli was listed on investment site PitchBook as having raised $46m, but now that figure is more than $50m.
Lamb has been talking about how Sony’s investment plays in to Roli’s wider plans. “We’re developing new music-making tools across hardware and software. It’s part of our long-term plan to create the first totally integrated hardware-software platform for music creation. The funding from SIF accelerates this, and positions us to continue focusing on innovative research and development as we scale,” he said.
Lamb also compared Roli’s modular ‘Blocks’ product to one of Sony’s famous music inventions. “What Roli is doing with Blocks is very similar to what Sony did with the Walkman, but in our case we’ve made a music creation device that you can take with you anywhere,” he said.
Roli’s last set of financial results, for 2016, were published in February this year. They revealed that the company’s revenues grew from just over £1.5m in 2015 to nearly £4.8m in 2016 – but also that its net losses grew from £5.9m to £14.3m over that period, due to “significant investment in staff, technology and marketing”.
In the results, Roli admitted that based on its cash-flow projections for 2017 to 2019 “additional finance needs to be raised to provide the Company and the Group with resources to execute the strategy and ensure the Company and the Group can continue to operate as a going concern.”
At the time the results were signed in February, Roli was “in advanced discussions with new and existing investors on the injection of new capital”. Sony Innovation Fund was clearly one of those investors, but with a cash balance of £10.2m at the end of 2016 followed by a round of debt funding in April 2017, it’s likely that Roli will add more investors (see reference to multiple investors in the quote above) in the year ahead.