Apple is in the process of acquiring Beats By Dre, and in the process making Dr. Dre a very wealthy man. But when it’s all said and done, will the deal be Dre’s exit strategy from a highly profitable business venture, or will it mark the beginning of a working partnership between Dre and Apple? The popular rapper will be a billionaire by the time this deal is closed, and a good portion of his fortune will come in the form of shares of Apple stock. That will give him influence within the company, but only if he wants it. A decade after being one of the early supporters of Apple’s iTunes store after being given an advance sneak peak by Steve Jobs and company, will Dre now want a seat on Apple’s Board of Directors?
A seat on the Board of Directors carries significant influence and only requires a minimum commitment in the form of showing up for the requisite meetings (although Oracle’s Larry Ellison famously resigned from Apple’s board after failing to show up to enough of those meetings). Such a position would solidify Dr. Dre’s position as the most successful businessman among his hip hop contemporaries, if that’s a goal of his. Or he could simply take a less official position with the company, some kind of honorary position which allows him to visit with the company’s sound engineers from time to time to offer input on how his Beats By Dre products are being morphed into the Apple lineup.
The role that Dr. Dre ends up with at Apple, if indeed he wants one, may depend on why CEO Tim Cook really decided to acquire Beats. Dre could just as easily cash out his Apple stock on whatever timeframe the deal ends up allowing, and invest the money in another venture.