MIT is new majority owner of Bose

Founder of firm gives most of stock to his alma mater

Bose Corp. founder Amar G. Bose is an MIT alumnus. Bose Corp. founder Amar G. Bose is an MIT alumnus. (Janet Knott/Globe Staff/File 2003)
By Hiawatha Bray
Globe Staff / April 30, 2011

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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has just gone into the consumer electronics business — as the new majority owner of Framingham audio equipment maker Bose Corp.

Founder and MIT alumnus Amar G. Bose has donated most of the stock in his privately held company to his alma mater. The shares don’t come with voting rights, so MIT won’t have any say in how the company is run. In addition, the school is barred from selling the stock. Instead, it will profit by receiving cash dividends whenever the company chooses to issue them.

A Bose spokesman declined a request for comment on the gift and an MIT spokesman declined to estimate the economic value of the donation. Bose Corp. reported 2010 revenue of more than $2 billion.

“Amar Bose gives us a great gift today, but he also serves as a superb example for MIT graduates who yearn to cut their own path,’’ said MIT president Susan Hockfield in a statement.

Bose, a former MIT professor, began experimenting with home audio equipment in 1956 and patented a number of innovations. He launched Bose Corp. in 1964 to bring his inventions to market. He remained on the MIT faculty until 2001.

The company is best known for its Wave line of desktop audio systems and its QuietComfort noise-canceling headphones. Bose also makes sound systems for cars, as well as large-scale audio products for use in stadiums and theaters.

Heather Joslyn, assistant managing editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, said it is not unusual for wealthy people to donate large amounts of stock to favorite causes or institutions. For instance, billionaire Warren Buffett has pledged to give away 85 percent of his shares in Berkshire Hathaway Inc. to a number of charitable foundations.

But Joslyn said she could find no other example of a company’s founder donating most of its shares to a single university. “It does look like it’s pretty unprecedented,’’ she said.

Hiawatha Bray can be reached at