Over the past 12 years, Spotify has slowly but surely transformed from a niche service beloved by hardcore music lovers into a mainstream juggernaut with nearly 160 million users. Seeking to take the company to the next level, the Swedish-based company signaled its intention to go public this past February. With the company having been valued at $19 billion this past December, it was widely assumed that Spotify would be valued in the $22 billion to $25 billion upon going public.
Earlier today, Spotify finally went public and will soon be trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker symbol SPOT. Interestingly enough, the NYSE set Spotify’s reference price at $132, a figure which has the potential to fluctuate quite a bit once shares finally begin trading and buy and sell orders are aligned.
Spotify going public comes at an interesting time. While the company has never quite turned a profit (it lost $1.5 billion just last year), it has experienced tremendous growth in recent years. Currently, the music streaming service boasts 71 million paying subscribers, an impressive figure given that Spotify only had 20 million paid subscribers in June of 2015. Looking ahead, Spotify recently claimed that its paid subscriber base may grow to upwards of 96 million users by the end of 2018.
Ahead of Spotify going public, CEO Daniel Ek on Monday published a blog post celebrating the occasion while also explaining why the company opted to go public via a direct listing as opposed to a traditional IPO.
Normally, companies ring bells. Normally, companies spend their day doing interviews on the trading floor touting why their stock is a good investment. Normally, companies don’t pursue a direct listing. While I appreciate that this path makes sense for most, Spotify has never been a normal kind of company. As I mentioned during our Investor Day, our focus isn’t on the initial splash. Instead, we will be working on trying to build, plan, and imagine for the long term.
Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we stumble. The constant is that we believe we are still early in our journey and we have room to learn and grow.
Despite the company’s impressive growth, not to mention its focus on diversifying its revenue streams, the company faces a serious challenge from Apple Music, Apple’s own streaming service. While Spotify’s cumulative number of paid subscribers is growing, it’s not growing as fast as Apple Music’s. In fact, some industry insiders are of the mind that Apple Music may boast more paid subscribers than Spotify as soon as this summer.