Rapper Jay-Z is among a handful of entertainers to become a billionaire. The 22 Grammy awards winner has a vast investment portfolio including a stake in Uber, music businesses and other ventures such as real estate and arts.
The billionaire is now backing French tech audio firm Devialet to rival Apple and Samsung’s dominance in the wireless earphones market. The company recently launched wireless earbuds, called Gemini, to offer great sound pleasure to many across the world. This is the first time the company is branching into headphones.
“Two years ago, we were struggling to decide which product we would want to launch next,” Devialet CEO Franck Lebouchard said in an interview with CNBC. “The reason why we made that decision on true wireless was really around offering a great sound experience to many people, not only audiophiles.”
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Devialet, known globally for its extravagant speakers that cost as much as $3,000, besides the backing of Jay-Z, has also caught the attention of LVMH’s billionaire CEO Bernard Arnault. The French billionaire oversees an empire of 70 brands including Louis Vuitton and Sephora. In 2019, he struck the biggest luxury acquisition ever when he bought American jeweler Tiffany & Co for $16.2 billion, according to Forbes.
Gemini has exciting features such as noise cancellation, a patented technology that adjusts to movements from the wearer, 8 hours of battery life and wireless charging, and the option to open the charging case up to replace its battery. Other features include dust and water resistance and Bluetooth support.
The company is expecting more success in China which is the firm’s largest market after France and has committed huge funding in investment, Lebouchard said. Devialet’s investment in China is also due to the dominance of Apple in the US.
The earbuds have been available for pre-order since October 10 in the US from partners like Best Buy and on Amazon from November 25. It will also be available in the UK through retailers such as Harrods and Selfridges.
Lebouchard told Business Insider that the Jay-Z-backed audio tech company had been working on Gemini for two years after Apple launched its first-generation AirPods.
At $299, Gemini is pricier than Apple by $50. Nonetheless, Lebouchard said the company is “happy we were able to deliver at that price point, so slightly above Apple, but with a product which I consider as better.”