SPOT Me at the Stock Exchange

On April 3rd, Spotify’s IPO will make its debut on the New York Stock Exchange as SPOT. The music streaming company announced the introduction of its IPO on February 28th.

The New York Times reports that Spotify has garnered a powerful audience ever since the creation of the company in 2008. It explains how the company started in Sweden, pioneering the music streaming model, before building a location in the U.S in 2011. Six years later, Spotify has 159 million active users and 71 million who have paid for subscriptions, as well as 42 offices globally; the company’s popularity and breadth is undeniable.

For its IPO, Spotify will use a direct listing process. Direct listing is a smaller scale approach to distributing shares, as the company directly trades shares to shareholders who are interested. By direct listing their stocks, Spotify’s IPO will not be underwritten by a bank, which saves the company millions of fees that would accompany the underwriting of their IPO. This process also means that it is easier to get a share in the company if one has a connection within the company.

Typically, when an IPO is introduced, there are sessions in which banks can become familiar with the IPO, making investors aware of it on the stock exchange. Because Spotify is already such a recognized brand, the company does not need to rely on these sessions that other IPOs may need to convince people to buy stock in the company.

According to the Wall Street Journal, 9% of Spotify’s shares will not be available to the public on the day that the IPO is released. The publication writes that this is due to a deal that the company created with Tencent Holdings as well as due to the effect of vesting schedules, which organizes when each employee receives their retirement funds and stock benefits.

The two biggest shareholders in Spotify are Daniel Ek, Spotify’s chief executive, and Martin Lorentzon, Spotify’s public face. On April 3rd, Ek can choose to sell his entire stake in Spotify if he so wishes.

There are advantages and disadvantages to investing in Spotify under its conditions. On one hand, direct listing provides employees and investors with an opportunity to turn their assets into cash, or liquefy their shares, if they need to. On the other hand, with no bank underwriting the IPO, there is high risk that Spotify’s stock can be pretty volatile, especially because its price will be determined by market forces.

According to Forbes, a significant number of “unicorn startups”, or companies that are valued at $1 billion or more, such as Blue Apron Holdings Inc, AppNexus, and Dropbox, tend to have overvalued and high-priced IPOs. This deters investors from Spotify and cautions investors who are interested in these companies’ growth. For example, Dropbox valued itself as a $10 billion company, but it is now worth only $7 billion, significantly lower than its value assessment in 2014.

Only time will tell what will happen to Spotify on April 3rd.