Music streaming service Spotify on Wednesday filed for an initial public offering (IPO) of $1 billion, making good on its long-rumored intentions to become the latest technology firm to become a publicly traded company.
According to Spotify’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Stockholm-based company will seek to trade on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker symbol “SPOT.”
“We set out to reimagine the music industry and to provide a better way for both artists and consumers to benefit from the digital transformation of the music industry,” the company said in its filing. “Spotify was founded on the belief that music is universal and that streaming is a more robust and seamless access model that benefits both artists and music fans.”
Spotify, which was founded in April 2006, is taking an unusual approach to its public offering, opting to utilize a direct listing in favor of a traditional float. With a direct listing, the public can immediately begin buying and selling stock in the company. With a float, there is more structure, with banks and investors setting the price and underwriting the company.
Direct listings are not new, but they are rarely used by companies. Under the model, the market determines the price for the company’s shares based entirely on supply and demand rather than hype and price setting done by early investors and backers.
It also comes with significant risks. For example, under a typical IPO, officers, directors and other shareholders would be locked into their stock holdings for a 180-day period while underwriters worked to stabilize the stock price. There is no such restriction in a direct listing, which would allow anyone to sell immediately — opening the stock up to potential harm if a major investor decided to sell off everything.
It’s not clear how well the approach will work for Spotify, though if it is successful it seems likely that other tech companies will follow in Spotify’s footsteps.
Spotify does bring to the table a considerable amount of name recognition and a sizable user base. According to the company’s SEC filings, it had 159 million monthly active users and 71 million premium subscribers at the end of 2017. By contrast, Apple Music—the second most popular streaming music service—currently has 36 million paid subscribers .
However, not all the numbers for Spotify are so rosy. The company has yet to turn a profit despite sizable—and growing—revenue. The company reported $4.09 billion in revenue in 2017, up significantly from the $2.95 billion in revenue the year prior.
Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek, the 35-year-old co-founder of the music streaming service, is still the largest individual shareholder in the company, accounting for 25.7 percent of ordinary shares. Chinese conglomerate Tencent holds 7.5 percent of the company, investment firm Tiger Global holds 6.9 percent, Sony Music holds 5.7 percent and Technology Crossover Ventures holds 5.4 percent.