Fri, Mar 02, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Spotify files US$1 billion IPO

IN THE RED:Despite continuing losses, the company is confident its music streaming service, available in 61 countries and territories, would keep up its soaring growth


Leading music streaming service Spotify AB on Wednesday announced a long-awaited initial public offering (IPO), seeking up to US$1 billion as it lists its shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

In its filing, the Swedish company expressed confidence the streaming revolution it spearheaded would keep up its soaring growth, but also acknowledged that Spotify was still deep in the red.

The papers filed with the US Securities Exchange Commission offered the most detailed look yet at the finances of the decade-old firm.

It said it had 159 million monthly users, including 71 million paying subscribers — twice that of closest rival, Apple Music.

“While streaming has changed the way many people access music, we believe there is an untapped global audience with significant growth potential,” Spotify’s 35-year-old CEO and cofounder Daniel Ek said in a statement.

Ek cited the model of Facebook Inc, which has about 2 billion users, and YouTube as proof Internet companies can reach “global scale.”

The streaming service is available in 61 nations or territories and has room to expand even in mature markets, Ek said, citing data showing the average American listens to music for 32 hours each week.

Revenue jumped by more than 38 percent last year from a year earlier to 4.09 billion euros (US$4.99 billion), and the company said its share price in private transactions were trading for up to US$132.50 each this year, meaning the company is worth as much as US$23.4 billion.

However, the eye-popping rise of Spotify has yet to translate into a stable bottom-line. The company said its net loss widened sharply last year to 1.24 billion euros.

“We have incurred significant operating losses in the past, and we may not be able to generate sufficient revenue to be profitable, or to generate positive cash flow on a sustained basis,” the company said as it listed the risk factors.

Spotify, which was founded in 2006 and launched operations in 2008, has led a major shake-up of the music world by allowing users to select on-demand from its library of 35 million songs.

The company said in its filing that it finally found a way to monetize online music after years of piracy and free online content.

While charting out the risks, the company said it had faced six lawsuits since July last year alleging unlawful reproduction or distribution, but as of last year, the company said it had paid more than 8 billion euros back to rightsholders for the use of their music on the service.

Especially controversial with artists has been Spotify’s free tier, which is backed by advertising.

Spotify in its filing called the advertising-backed service a crucial part of its business model, saying that the tier’s revenue grew 41 percent last year and has helped bring in 60 percent of the users who eventually buy subscriptions.

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