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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.

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