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SPOTIFY TAKES THE DIRECT APPROACH

On the occasion of their Investor Day call, Spotify boss Daniel Ek and team went into some detail on the streamery's direct listing, which is slated to begin on the NYSE on 4/3.

"For us, going public has never really been about the pomp and the circumstance of it all," Ek declared. "So you won’t see us ringing any bells or throwing any parties."

He added that a traditional IPO "just isn't a very good fit for us," requiring as it would a lock-up, an injunction against stock sales by top shareholders during a specified window, sometimes as long as six months.

"Our most valuable asset is our people," Ek said, "and we want to treat them fairly, we want to empower them. And we have allowed shareholders and employees to buy and sell stocks for years. That shouldn't stop just because our stock is becoming more widely owned. And since Spotify isn't selling any stock when we go public, we're really focused on the long-term performance of our business."

Head of Investor Relations and Financial Planning & Analysis Paul Vogel  insisted another main reason for the choice was "our desire to be more transparent and more accessible to a wider range of investors."

Ek proffered some stats about the 10-year-old company, touting 71m subscribers and 159m+ active users in 65 markets, 3,500+ employees worldwide. "But we're just getting started," he added, with a flourish reminiscent of an Apple keynote.

Spotify will save many, many millions in banking fees by listing directly. And because new stock isn't being issued (as in an IPO) the value of shareholders' Spotify certificates won't be diluted. If the results are boffo for the company, other exploding tech businesses could follow suit—Uber, Lyft and Airbnb are all expected to go public soon-ish—which would mean a lot of money taken off the table for big financial institutions. 

But there are risks associated with the approach, which is why so many companies opt for a traditional IPO: An underwriting bank or other financial institution uses its expertise to set an appropriate price and can calibrate the supply of shares available, adjusting to the currents of the market. Direct listing could mean there's little or no backstop for a precipitous price plunge. 

Will new investors stream in like crazy? Stay tuned.

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