Neil Young: Pono won’t be a hardware company for long (video interview)

Neil Young’s high-definition audio startup Pono just started selling its Pono player, but the music legend told me during an interview at CES in Las Vegas Wednesday that he sees Pono getting out of the hardware business sooner rather than later. Asked whether Pono wants to continue to make its own hardware, Young said: “Not really. This is just so people can see what can be done. I would welcome the chance to have another company make this player.”

Young went on to say that he’d be happy to share Pono’s technology with other companies, and license the Pono brand. “It can say ‘certified Pono’ or it can say ‘branded Pono’. Those are the two things we offer, and neither of them are very expensive,” he explained.

Check out the full interview with Young:


Young said that he first thought about building the Pono when the MP3 format became popular around the turn of the century. He then started building a prototype four or five years ago. Young went on to announce Pono with an appearance on Letterman in 2012, but it took the company quite a while to actually get the product ready and out of the door.

In that process, Pono went through a number of CEOs, and is now officially headed by Young himself. Asked about that process, Young said: “It’s been difficult, we’ve made mistakes. But we are still here.”