Code Conference

'Ballsy' Beats deal a long shot for Apple: VC pro

Hey Apple, you can't buy 'cool': Expert

Apple paid $3 billion for headphone and streaming music company Beats Electronics to try to play catch-up in the shift away from downloading music, said a leading Silicon Valley venture capitalist.

"This is a $3 billion bet that Jimmy Iovine is going to be able to join Apple and create a Spotify-killer," Geoff Lewis, a partner at Founders Fund, said on CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Thursday.

But Lewis expressed skepticism about whether the Beats co-founder and music insider can deliver. "This is a case of very, very different cultures coming together with a hope that Iovine is going to work his magic. I think it a long-shot, sort of ballsy acquisition."

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Top executives of Apple and Beats Electronics
Source: Apple

Apple is also getting the other Beats co-founder, Dr. Dre, in the transaction. "Apple's history has been one of creating 'cool.' They've now gone out and tried to buy 'cool.'"

Iovine and Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue took the stage Wednesday at Re/code's Code Conference to explain the benefits of the deal and why the current model of streaming is broken. Iovine said Spotify, founded in 2006, is a good service, but lacks human curation. Technology-driven programming alone doesn't work for music, he added.

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Founders Fund's Lewis said Apple may be too late. "The table is largely set," he said. Apple does not know what its answer to Spotify will be, Lewis contended. "The Beats streaming product today is not the right product and they sort of implicitly admitted that yesterday at the Code Conference."

Disclosure: NBCNews group is a minority stakeholder in Re/code and has a content sharing partnership with it.

—By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere.