A co-founder of Beats has created a new company that makes earbuds


About a week before Apple agreed to buy Beats for $3 billion, one of the company’s earliest employees filed a lawsuit against the headphone-maker, accusing it of cutting him and others out of potentially millions in royalties. That man is Steven Lamar who, in his lawsuit, claims that he came up with the idea for Beats and was instrumental in developing three of its first models, as well as the company’s logo and branding. Now Lamar has started another headphone venture aimed at eating Beats’ lunch, called Roam, and its first product is Ropes, $299 earbuds designed to hang on your neck when you’re not using them, like a fashion statement. Lamar boldly says they also happen to be the best-sounding earbuds on the market, with the most customizable sound.

Steven Lamar is best known for suing Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Andre “Dr. Dre” Young over headphone royalties. With his new company, Roam, he aims to break out on his own terms. When you think of Beats headphones, you think of André “Dr. Dre” Young, master of mixing board and message. Even after Apple’s multibillion-dollar acquisition of the company, Dre’s name remains plastered on each pair, and his scowl lodged in your brain. Then you think about Jimmy Iovine, the well-known Interscope record executive. Picture his awkward grin, his hands shoved in his pockets in that aw shucks way, his ball-cap-and-jacket combo that would only work in the boardrooms of the music industry. Most people don’t think about Steven Lamar, a one-time hedge fund manager that linked up with Dre and Iovine almost a decade ago to get Beats off the ground. Lamar’s name came to the forefront in May when he sued the pair over royalties. It was in 2006 when Lamar says he approached Iovine about celebrity-endorsed headphones, lined up a design firm and manufacturer, and began talking with Apple. The Beats royalties arrangement established in a settlement later that year was no longer working, Lamar argued in the filing. And so the former partners find themselves back in court today. The Beats backstory is complex, but Lamar doesn’t seem to waiting around for an answer. He has been at work on a new audio company that he calls Roam. On Thursday, Lamar will introduce Roam’s first product: wireless earphones called Ropes.

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