Daniel Ek
IBL/REX/Shutterstock
Sweden

Spotify

Daniel
Ek

Co-Founder / CEO

Ek has provided consumers around the world easy, affordable access to streaming music, while effectively helping reduce piracy. But the industry has not necessarily been grateful.

In 2016, Ek was stuck at the negotiating table with the three major record labels, which were reluctant to cut long-terms, in part because they were displeased with the compensation they received for ad-supported listening.

But Spotify’s size makes Ek a force to be reckoned with. The service has 40 million paid subscribers, and it attracts another 60 million users to its ad-supported service. In March, the company raised $1 billion in convertible debt, giving it an $8 billion valuation.

In September, Ek was reportedly in advance discussions to acquire SoundCloud, a music sharing platform with more than 175 million users, but talks broke down in December over the $1 billion price tag and concerns that the purchase could affect Spotify’s planned IPO.

In his native Sweden, Ek, who founded his first company at the age of 14, has not only helped transform the music industry. According to Politico, he has also “done one more than anyone to make [the country’s capital city] Stockholm into Europe’s tech unicorn capital,” by campaigning to make the city more business-friendly.

Career

  • Advertigo
  • Tradera
  • BitTorrent

Variety Honors

  • Digital Entertainment Impact/Digital Execs

Philanthropy

News from Variety

Producer Max Martin, Spotify's Daniel Ek Tackle Gender Equality: 'Stop Talking, Start Doing'

Producer Max Martin, Spotify's Daniel Ek Tackle Gender Equality: 'Stop Talking, Start Doing'

In a rare appearance, Spotify CEO and founder Daniel Ek and Swedish producer Max Martin came together to discuss women's issues in Stockholm on June 12. Under the banner of The Equalizer Project, a joint initiative between Spotify, the Swedish Music Publishers’ Association (SMPA) and MXM Publishing, whose vision is to promote "a music industry where all creators – regardless of gender – enjoy equal conditions in which to succeed," the two held a mirror up to themselves in addressing the...

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