You probably use Spotify to listen to some of your favorite songs and artists regularly. What you may not know is the person behind this application that has revolutionized the music industry. His name is Daniel Ek. Below are ten things that you didn’t know about Daniel Ek.
1. Ek Began Coding at an Early Age
Ek is a Swedish national. He was born on February 21st in 1983, in Stockholm, in a district called Ragsved. His stepfather and mother raised him. Daniel developed an interest in programming at an early age, probably because of the influence of his stepfather, who had a career in information and technology. At an early age, Ek could create basic code. He did this while listening to music. Based on his heritage and the many successful Swedish musicians, it's no wonder Ek found his fortune in a music-related industry.
2. Ek's Entrepreneurship Journey
Ek became an entrepreneur as early as when he was 13 years old. While studying at IT-Gymnasiet high school, he began creating websites in the school’s computer room which he subsequently sold to clients for $5000 per website. Being the leader he is, he expanded his business by recruiting his classmates to develop the websites. Consequently, this idea multiplied his earnings to about $50000 per month. At age 16, he applied to work for Google but was turned down because he did not have a diploma at the time
3. Dropping out of University
Daniel’s passion for technology drove him to enroll at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, the best technical university in Sweden. However, this did not last long because he dropped out after only attending one year at the university. He found life at the university to be too dull. Instead, he opted to continue working in tech. Funny enough, he later came to hire the same institute when he was founding Spotify.
4. Ek's Passion for Music
From an early age, Ek also had a passion for music. At age five, he was given a guitar as a gift by his mother. He comes from a family of musicians. Both of his maternal grandparents worked in the music industry. His grandmother sang the opera while his grandfather played the piano. According to Fast Company, Daniel Ek says that he tried being an artist for one whole year. He was the guitarist of a band for a while, but the band later dropped him because they thought he was not good enough. He also plays drums, harmonica, piano, and guitar. Daniel says that music helped him through some of his most challenging times, such as battling depression in his early twenties.
5. Early Business Ventures
Daniel Ek had a few other jobs before launching Spotify. He worked briefly for an online auction firm known as Tradera before working as the chief technology officer of Stardoll. He founded an advertising firm known as Advertigo, which he sold to a Swedish company known as TradeDoubler for $ 1 million. After selling Advertigo in 2006, he was employed briefly as the CEO of uTorrent, but his term ended when BitTorrent acquired uTorrent. It was the last job he had before launching Spotify.
6. Spotify Ownership
Daniel initially had the idea to start Spotify in 2002, but this would only pass in 2006. He intended to build a platform that would stop music piracy and compensate artists simultaneously. The Spotify AB was founded in April 2006 by Ek and former TroubleDoubler co-founder Lorentzon. They two had grown to become very close friends through their business dealings. Ek assumed the role of CEO while Lorentzon acted as the chairman. Initially, for their distribution, they used the peer-to-peer model before later switching to the server-client model in 2014. In the past decade, Spotify has grown tremendously to become the most profitable music streaming service globally. The firm has close to around 90 million paying subscribers. The success of the business is mainly because of Daniel’s leadership qualities, patience, and innovation.
7. Daniel’s Net worth
The success of Spotify has made Daniel Ek one of the world’s billionaires. “According to Forbes” (https://www.forbes.com/profile/daniel-ek/?sh=58d68b7146ab), Daniel Ek has a net worth of $4 billion. He owns 17.4% of Spotify’s shares. Currently, he is both the CEO and chairman of Spotify because Lorentzon stepped down from his role as chairman in 2016. In 2017, Billboard magazine claimed that Ek was the music industry’s most powerful person.
Daniel is also a family man. He married his longtime girlfriend, Sofia Levander, in 2016 at a star-studded wedding ceremony at Lake Como, with Chris Rock, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bruno Mars attending the ceremony. Bruno Mars performed at the wedding while Chris Rock was the master of ceremony. Daniel and Sofia have two kids. They live in New York.
9. Role in Politics
In 2016, he was at loggerheads with the Swedish government after deciding to challenge its policies and laws on education, taxation, and housing. Together with the then Spotify chairman, Lorentzon, they wrote to the government threatening to leave the country if the government did not change those laws. Ek claimed that programmers refused to work on startups because the government imposed high taxes on stock options.
10. Ek's Hobbies and Interests
Ek enjoys playing video games and ping pong. Specifically, he likes to play EA Sports FIFA, which is a soccer video game. At one point, Ek was the FIFA champion at Spotify. He claims that he has been playing the video game since 1993 when it was first released. The leaders at Sony, which owns FIFA, made him a custom-designed Playstation with a Spotify logo. Ek also loves playing Ping-Pong. He once competed with Justin Bieber in a Ping-Pong tournament they organized together, but Bieber thrashed him. He conceded the defeat and later decided to award Justin Bieber a custom-made Ping-Pong Paddle after Justin’s song “What Do You Mean” set streaming records on Spotify.
Daniel Ek is a big soccer fan. He played soccer as a kid growing up in Stockholm with his childhood friends. Ek has supported the London-based Arsenal Football Club since childhood. Recently he contacted the Kroenke family, who own the club, with an offer to buy it. According to Reuters, Daniel said that he had the funds to purchase the football club valued at $2.8 billion by Forbes magazine. Ek decided to bid for the club in the wake of the recent fall-out between the Kroenke family and Arsenal fans after the family attempted to join the European Super League. His bid got the support of former Arsenal players and legends such as Thiery Henry, Patrick Vieira, and Dennis Bergkamp.
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Written by Allen Lee
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