Skullcandy headphones from the 2010 product line.
Skullcandy headphones from the 2010 product line. - 
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Kai Ryssdal: We had some fun yesterday with the Zillow IPO. The real estate website went public today to the tune of a 79 percent jump in its share price.

Another trendy firm went public today, but investors do seem a little more leery. I can't for the life of me imagine why. Doesn't a company named "Skullcandy" sound like a safe investment to you?

Marketplace's Jeff Horwich reports.


Jeff Horwich: Never heard of Skullcandy? That's OK, I wasn't cool enough, either. Basically, it sells headphones -- get it, "Skull Candy?" Headphones designed to make other people's heads turn -- endorsed by rappers, snowboarders and motocross star Nick Wey, whom I've also never heard of.

Nick Wey: Ah, my favorite Skullcandy headphones? I mean, kind of going with my whole persona, I'm little bit more of a GQ type.

In case you missed it, these days we care a great deal about what headphones our celebrities wear. And we have Skullcandy to thank for it.

Jeff Harbaugh: They led the way into that niche -- not so much from a technology point of view, but from a point of view of being trendy and fashionable.

Jeff Harbaugh is the former president of Nitro Snowboards, now a financial adviser for the so-called "action sports" industry.

Harbaugh: They've been able to grow the market and they're kind of betting on staying trendy even as they sell in the big-box stores, like Best Buy.

Today's IPO values the company at more than $500 million. Freddy Nager talks about Skullcandy with his marketing students at UCLA. Nager says Skullcandy has done a masterful job dressing up decent Chinese headphones. Unfortunately, other people can do that, too.

Freddy Nager: So now any celebrity who considers himself or herself a brand can call up a Chinese factory and say, 'hey I want my name on a product.' It really does pose a huge burden on Skullcandy to always be even edgier-than-thou.

Nager says he's got a new assignment for his class: design a pair of headphones that's cooler than Skullcandy. For mega-brands like Nike and Sony, you can bet that assignment's well underway.

I'm Jeff Horwich for Marketplace.

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Follow Jeff Horwich at @jeffhorwich