Daniel Ek

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Daniel Ek
Daniel Ek (Interview) (cropped).jpg
Daniel Ek in 2011
Born (1983-02-21) 21 February 1983 (age 39)[1]
Stockholm, Sweden
OccupationCEO and co-founder, Spotify

Daniel Ek (born 21 February 1983) is a Swedish billionaire entrepreneur and technologist. He is the co-founder and CEO of music streaming service Spotify.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Ek grew up in the Rågsved district of Stockholm, Sweden.[3] He graduated from high school in IT-Gymnasiet [sv] in Sundbyberg in 2002, and subsequently studied engineering at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, before dropping out to focus on his IT career.[4]

Business career[edit]

Early ventures[edit]

Ek started making websites for clients from his home at age 13. He charged the first client $100 and the second $200. Eventually, he started charging $5,000 per website. To help expand the business, Ek recruited students from his class to work on the websites from the school computer lab by bribing them with video games. His earnings eventually reached $50,000 per month. By age 18, he was managing a team of 25. Ek's parents started to notice his earnings once he started bringing home large TVs.[5]

Ek later served in a senior role at Nordic auction company Tradera which was acquired by eBay in 2006. Ek also served as the CTO of the browser-based game and fashion community Stardoll. Ek later started another company Advertigo, an online advertising company. Advertigo was sold to TradeDoubler in 2006.[6] After selling Advertigo, Ek briefly became the CEO of μTorrent, working with μTorrent founder Ludvig Strigeus. This ended when μTorrent was sold to BitTorrent on December 7, 2006. Strigeus would later join Ek as a Spotify developer.[7]


The sale of Advertigo as well as his previous work made Ek wealthy enough that he decided to retire. However, after a few months, he realized he wanted a new project, leading to his founding Spotify.[5] Ek first had the idea for Spotify in 2002 when peer-to-peer music service Napster shut down and another illegal site Kazaa took over. Ek said he "realized that you can never legislate away from piracy. Laws can definitely help, but it doesn't take away the problem. The only way to solve the problem was to create a service that was better than piracy and at the same time compensates the music industry – that gave us Spotify."[6]

Ek incorporated Spotify AB with Martin Lorentzon in Stockholm, Sweden in 2006.[8] Lorentzon had previously worked at and co-founded TradeDoubler which had acquired Ek's previous company Advertigo.[9] In October 2008, the company launched its legal music streaming service Spotify. Initially, Spotify ran on a peer-to-peer distribution model, similar to μTorrent, but switched to a server-client model in 2014.[10] Ek serves as CEO of Spotify. In October 2015, Spotify co-founder Martin Lorentzon announced he would be stepping down as chairman and Ek would be taking over alongside his current role as CEO.[11] As of April 2019, Spotify has 217 million active users[12] and as of June 2017 had raised over $2.5 billion in venture funding.[13]

In 2017, Ek was named the most powerful person in the music industry by Billboard.[14]

In May 2022, Ek invested an additional $50 million to acquire more Spotify shares, citing an optimistic future outlook for the streaming giant.[15][16] Spotify at that time had 182 million subscribers and was growing at 15% year on year.

Political positions[edit]

In 2016, Ek and fellow Spotify co-founder Martin Lorentzon wrote an open letter on the blogging platform Medium to the Swedish government saying that if certain changes to Swedish law regarding housing, taxation, and education are not made, Spotify will be forced to relocate from the country.[17] More specifically, Ek claims that the high taxes in Sweden on stock options makes it difficult to incentivize programmers to work at startups when startups have trouble competing with larger companies on salary. Moreover, Ek claims the Swedish permitting policy is overly restrictive, limiting the supply of affordable housing.[18]

Personal life[edit]

In 2016, Ek married Sofia Levander, his longtime partner, at Lake Como. At Ek's wedding, Bruno Mars was invited to perform and Chris Rock officiated; he invited numerous guests, including Mark Zuckerberg.[19] Ek and his wife have two children together.

Ek is a lifelong supporter of Premier League club Arsenal, and, in April 2021, expressed an interest in purchasing the football club if it were put up for sale.[20] In May 2021, Ek made an offer to buy the club for approximately £1.8 billion, which was rejected by the owners.[21][22]


  1. ^ Will Schmidt (21 February 2014). "Happy Birthday Daniel Ek!". Tech.Co. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  2. ^ Brendan Greeley (14 Jul 2011). "Spotify's Ek Wins Over Music Pirates With Labels' Approval". Bloomberg. Retrieved 3 Sep 2016.
  3. ^ "Is Daniel Ek, Spotify founder, going to save the music industry … or destroy it?". the Guardian. 2013-11-10. Retrieved 2022-02-05.
  4. ^ "Spotify's Daniel Ek: The Most Important Man In Music"..
  5. ^ a b "Daniel Ek's "impossible thinking" started at age 13 with a Web development mini-empire". 9 November 2012. Retrieved 2017-12-06..
  6. ^ a b Neate, Rupert (17 February 2010). "Daniel Ek profile: 'Spotify will be worth tens of billions'". Retrieved 6 Dec 2017..
  7. ^ Andy (12 Nov 2014). "Spotify Reminded of uTorrent Past After Branding Grooveshark 'Pirates'". Torrent Freak. Retrieved 3 Sep 2016.
  8. ^ "Spotify Subscriptions Boost Revenue But Operating Loss Widens". Fortune. Reuters. 24 May 2016. Retrieved 3 Sep 2016.
  9. ^ Robert Levine (5 Jun 2015). "Billboard Cover: Spotify CEO Daniel Ek on Taylor Swift, His 'Freemium' Business Model and Why He's Saving the Music Industry". Billboard. Retrieved 3 Sep 2016.
  10. ^ Janko Roettgers (16 Apr 2014). "Spotify gives up on P2P technology for music streaming". GigaOm. Retrieved 3 Sep 2016.
  11. ^ Lunden, Ingrid. "Spotify co-founder Martin Lorentzon steps down as chairman, CEO Daniel Ek steps up". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2016-10-14.
  12. ^ "Spotify Reports First Quarter 2019 Earnings". Spotify. 2019-04-29. Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  13. ^ Micah Singleton (15 June 2017). "Spotify now has 140 million active users".
  14. ^ music, Guardian (2017-02-10). "Spotify's Daniel Ek named most powerful person in the music business". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-03-29.
  15. ^ "Daniel Ek pumps $50 million into Spotify: 'I believe our best days are ahead'". Daniel Ek pumps $50 million into Spotify: ‘I believe our best days are ahead’ | TechCrunch News @ SendStory. Retrieved 2022-05-07.
  16. ^ Today, Telangana (2022-05-07). "Spotify CEO Daniel Ek pumps $50 mn into his music streaming platform". Telangana Today. Retrieved 2022-05-07.
  17. ^ Wong, Joon Ian. ""Sweden must change quickly": Spotify threatens to leave the country". Quartz.
  18. ^ "DANIEL EK". POLITICO. December 7, 2016.
  19. ^ "Billboard Power 100's New No. 1: Spotify Streaming Pioneer Daniel Ek". Billboard. Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  20. ^ @eldsjal (April 23, 2021). "As a kid growing up, I've cheered for @Arsenal as long as I can remember. If KSE would like to sell Arsenal I'd be happy to throw my hat in the ring" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  21. ^ "Daniel Ek claims his £1.8bn bid to buy Arsenal was rejected by owners Kroenke Sports & Entertainment". Sky Sports. Retrieved 2021-05-15.
  22. ^ "Daniel Ek reveals Kroenke family have rejected his bid to buy Arsenal". the Guardian. 2021-05-15. Retrieved 2021-05-15.