Spotify Kicks off Direct Listing With ‘Good Day’

The music-streaming service's stock closes 13% above the reference price on its first day of trading.
Matthew HellerApril 3, 2018

Spotify shares had a successful market debut on Tuesday, closing 13% above the reference price as the music-streaming service became the largest company to go public through an unconventional direct listing.

The stock opened at $165.90 and hit a high of $169 before falling back to close at $149.01. The New York Stock Exchange had set a reference price of $132.

At the closing price, Spotify was valued at $26.5 billion — three times its last valuation when it raised $400 million in 2015. “It was just the first day, but it was by all accounts a good day,” Nicholas Colas, co-founder of DataTrek Research, told The Washington Post.

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The direct listing allowed Spotify to avoid a traditional initial public offering where new shares are issued to raise capital and the issuer has to pay hefty underwriting fees. Instead, the company merely made existing shares available on the NYSE so they can be traded.

On Tuesday, about 30 million shares had changed hands by the end of the trading day.

“Spotify is not raising capital, and our shareholders and employees have been free to buy and sell our stock for years,” co-founder Daniel Ek wrote in a blog post Monday. “So while tomorrow puts us on a bigger stage, it doesn’t change who we are, what we are about, or how we operate.”

In its prospectus, Spotify said it is the leader in streaming music services globally, with 71 million paying subscribers and more than 159 million monthly active listeners (MAUs) as of December 2017.

The company reported revenue of $4.99 billion in 2017, up from $3.6 billion the previous year, but it has paid out more than $10 billion in music royalties since its inception in 2008, leaving it with substantial losses.

According to the Post, the performance of Spotify’s stock could provide “a road map for the array of multibillion-dollar tech companies that investors are hoping will go public soon, including Airbnb, Lyft and Uber.”

“It opens the door to any unicorn out there that focuses on the consumer,” Colas said.