Hoby Darling: Amplifying What Skullcandy Does Best

Josh McFadden

July 9, 2013

Headquartered in Park City, Skullcandy has emerged as a global leader in performance audio and gaming headphones. The company markets and sells its products and accessories throughout the United States and, impressively, in more than 70 countries throughout the world. And now it has a new man in charge.

Hoby Darling was recently named Skullcandy’s president and CEO, immediately assuming leadership of the growing public company. Darling comes to Skullcandy from athletic apparel giant Nike, where he was general manager of Nike+ Digital Sport. At Nike, he also filled the role of head of strategy and planning for Nike affiliates Converse, Cole Haan, Hurley and Umbro.

With this impressive résumé to his credit, Darling is thrilled about his new duties at Skullcandy.

“I was attracted to the company because of the significant market opportunity that I believe exists for Skullcandy, both within the headphone category as well as adjacent consumer electronic categories,” he says. “Skullcandy has tremendous brand recognition and a large and loyal consumer base. The pieces are in place to succeed.”

As incoming CEO, Darling says he is confronting many challenges to growth. Having the right styles and innovations surrounding the products is key, as is maximizing customers’ in-store experience. These, along with driving people to Skullcandy’s best retail partners, need improvements, he says. However, Darling also sees an abundance of opportunities at Skullcandy.

“I firmly believe that the headphone and overall audio category is on the verge of a multi-year product innovation cycle,” he says. “This will be fueled by advancements in consumer-relevant audio and communication technology that will change the way everyone listens to music and communicates with fans and family, from the hard-core audiophile to the casual listener. I believe the companies that focus on innovation and deep emotional connections with consumers through clear messaging and brand identity will be best positioned to capitalize on the coming changes.”

Always mindful of his end-user, Darling says he “obsesses around the consumer in all aspects of the business.” And though he is passionate about what he does and is driven to succeed, Darling does not endorse a mindset of working oneself into exhaustion. Rather, his credo is to “work smarter, not harder.

“My business philosophy is to edit and amplify,” he says. “Edit out areas of your business where you aren’t strongest and amplify what you do best. Do less, and do it bigger and better.”

Throughout his career, Darling has been surrounded by some of the most gifted business, brand and product minds in the consumer world. Through his vast experience, he has fostered an understanding of distribution, marketplace and proven long-term model strategies. After all he has accomplished, Darling’s formula for success is simple.

“Build a great team and empower them to change the world,” he says. “Be bigger than yourself. Have goals that are bigger than just creating a product. Have fun.”

And as a leader in a rapidly evolving, exciting industry, Darling loves when people create and when they exceed even their own expectations. “It’s satisfying to watch people do things they never thought possible,” he says. “I love helping people get excited.”

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