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Neil Young’s Pono struggles as it expands, looks for new CEO

Neil Young
Ryan Waniata/Digital Trends

Neil Young made lots of headlines with his Kickstarter-funded hi-fi portable music player Pono last year, but it looks like the $6 million that the rock star raised wasn’t enough to keep the ball rolling. Last week, Young explained in a Facebook post that Pono’s expansion has been hampered by a lack of funds and no ‘proven business leader’ as CEO.

“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,” said Young. “Today we are trying to set up stores in multiple countries and are restricted by a lack off (sic) resources. This is our highest priority. As soon as we have the funds, those stores will open. Canada, Great Britain, and Germany are among our first targets.”

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Young himself has held the reins at Pono since prior CEO John Hamm left the company last year. The company has sold “tens of thousands of players” and hundreds of thousands of HD music tracks through its online store, according to Young, but needs more funding for expansion.

The 69 year-old rocker noted in his post that running the company is a “labor of love,” and that it “has not been easy” but he has a positive outlook. “We are a little company doing what only one giant corporation has been able to do before. And we are doing some things they have not done. We are serving Hi Res master files of your favorite music. We have an engaged and thriving online community,” he said. “We do this by working with many companies who help us to provide the quality we serve.”

In addition to running Pono, Neil Young has been busy releasing a new record (The Monsanto Years, his 36th) and explaining why he removed all of his music from other streamers. “I don’t need my music to be devalued by the worst quality in the history of broadcasting or any other form of distribution,” said Young last month. “When the quality is back, I’ll give it a look. Never say never.”

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