Why Spotify Chose It's Unusual Public Offering

"Unique factors" made it possible.

On Tuesday, Spotify — the world most popular music-streaming service — made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange trading at $165.9 under the ticker “SPOT.” This initial stock price means the company is valued at around $29.5 billion in total, a number substantially higher than its estimated valuation of $23 billion, which was calculated while it was traded on private markets for $132.50 a share.

While the Swedish company has had a successful first day on public markets, Spotify went public in a peculiar way. Normally, a company would hire banks to help it find buyers for its shares, a process known as an initial public offering (IPO). Spotify, on the other hand, underwent a direct public offering (DPO), which bypasses the middleman and offers its shares directly to investors. DPOs are generally thought to be riskier, but Stacey Cunningham, the chief operating officer of the New York Stock Exchange, said Spotify was in the perfect position to pull it off on Cheddar’s Morning Bell on Tuesday.

“I think there are unique factors that Spotify needs that not all other issuers would have,” she says. “One, they don’t need to raise capital, so going through the IPO process isn’t something that was important to them. But there are lots of other reasons why companies would choose to access the public markets, like the ability to provide a liquidity event for your shareholders and early investors.”

Along with raising money, IPO’s advantages include many formalities and ceremonies, which can provide a lot of exposure to a company. But Spotify already boasts 159 million monthly active users and 71 million premium subscribers across 61 countries, making all that fanfare unnecessary.

The music-streaming company was able to get on the NYSE without a hitch, but it could run into some trouble further down the road as it faces stuff competition.

One potential problem is that Spotify doesn’t sell any hardware along with its service, unlike Apple Music, which comes with every iPhone and HomePod. In addition to selling subscriptions directly, Apple can rely on its sales of phones and speakers to increase the chances customers will subscribe.

Only time will tell Spotify will need to be on the market for a few months to determine if it will stand up to its competitors.

Related Tags