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Spotify's Very Weird, Suspenseful IPO Launches Today

04 April 2018, 01:17 | Hattie Nash

Spotify — Tomorrow

Will Spotify change its tune after stock market listing?

After a delay in early morning trading, Spotify opened on Wall Street at $165 per share - valuing the company at about $29 billion.

Spotify will also not be selling any new company shares. Instead, it's completing a direct listing.

A Spotify banner adorns the facade of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, April 3, 2018.

Ek is a startup veteran who launched his first company at the age of 14. Almost 91 percent of Spotify's 178 million shares were tradable, a much higher percentage than typical in a traditional IPO. This is because in its 12 years of existence, the company costs are far greater than its revenues and as much as that gap is narrowing, there is no assurance that Spotify can become truly profitable.

It faces tough competition from the second-largest streaming company Apple Music, which has 38 million subscribers.

"We are about twice the size of [Apple] so I think we've still got some room and I'm very happy with the growth that we're seeing in our business".

By comparison, Spotify expects its audience could top 200 million monthly users by the end of this year, with as many as 96 million of them paying for the service, according to a regulatory filing.

Despite its rapid growth, estimates of its worth are all over the map. Alphabet Inc's Google does not release paid subscriber numbers for Google Play Music.

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Losses for last year were 1.2 billion Euros ($1.47 billion), which compares to 539 million Euros ($661 million) the year before.

Essentially, Spotify is sitting in a Bluestone Lane coffee shop two blocks from NYSE right now wearing ripped black skinny jeans, an ironic Justin Beiber t-shirt and a huge floppy hat, smoking a vape pen, drinking a flat white and muttering to a friend "I just, like, went public...or whatever". The company has said it pays almost 70 percent of its revenue to the music community. Launched in 2008, the company claims to have almost 160 million monthly active users, across dozens of countries.

Ek, in an effort to keep the IPO somewhat low-key, was not at the NYSE and did not ring the opening bell.

Spotify's "listing on an exchange makes their stock liquid".

The Swedish music streamer - which has sidestepped the traditional IPO process in favor of a so-called direct listing - has braced itself for a potentially rough ride, as tech stocks have lately taken a beating and no banks will be serving as underwriters to prop up the price. The company's management said the firm didn't actually need to raise money, like most companies that IPO do. Instead, current shareholders were able to sell their existing shares, and were not restricted on when they could do so. The company is using an unusual direct listing process rather than the standard process used for nearly all IPOs.

There was concern such a listing could make for a volatile entry into the public market. Company executives did not conduct a roadshow to convince big institutional investors, such as pension and mutual funds, to buy shares.

"The whole thing is going to be a surprise".

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