Daniel Ek (born 21 February 1983) is a Swedish billionaire entrepreneur and technologist. Ek is best known as the co-founder and CEO of the music streaming service Spotify.[3]

Daniel Ek
Daniel Ek (Interview) (cropped).jpg
Daniel Ek in 2011
Born (1983-02-21) 21 February 1983 (age 36)[1]
Stockholm, Sweden
OccupationCEO and co-founder, Spotify
Net worthUS$1.9 billion (October 2019)[2]

Early lifeEdit

Ek grew up in the Rågsved district of Stockholm, Sweden.


Ek graduated high school from IT-Gymnasiet (sv) in Sundbyberg in 2002, and subsequently studied engineering at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology before dropping out to focus on his IT career. [4]

Business careerEdit

Early venturesEdit

Ek's first foray into the business world began at age 13 when he started a business making websites for clients from his home. He charged the first client $100, but then charged the next client who asked $200. Eventually, he started charging $5,000 per website. To help expand the business, Ek recruited students from his class to work on the websites from the school computer lab by bribing them with video games. His earnings eventually reached $50,000 per month and by age 18 he was managing a team of 25. Ek's parents started to notice his earnings once he started bringing home large TVs.[5]

Ek later served in a senior role at Nordic auction company Tradera which was acquired by Ebay in 2006. Ek also served as the CTO of browser based game and fashion community Stardoll. Ek later started another company Advertigo, an online advertising company. Advertigo sold to TradeDoubler in 2006.[6] After selling Advertigo, Ek briefly became the CEO of μTorrent, working with μTorrent founder Ludvig Strigeus. This ended when μTorrent was sold to BitTorrent on December 7 of 2006. Strigeus would later join Ek as a Spotify developer.[7]


The sale of Advertigo as well as his previous work made Ek wealthy enough that he decided to retire. However, after a few months Ek realized that money was meaningless without a project he was passionate about which led to the founding of Spotify.[5] Ek first had the idea for Spotify in 2002 when peer-to-peer music service Napster shut down and another illegal site Kazaa took over. Ek said he "realised that you can never legislate away from piracy. Laws can definitely help, but it doesn't take away the problem. The only way to solve the problem was to create a service that was better than piracy and at the same time compensates the music industry – that gave us Spotify."[6]

Ek incorporated Spotify AB with Martin Lorentzon in Stockholm, Sweden in 2006. [8] Lorentzon had previously worked at and co-founded TradeDoubler which had acquired Ek's previous company Advertigo.[9] In October 2008, the company launched its legal music streaming service Spotify. Initially, Spotify ran on a peer-to-peer distribution model, similar to uTorrent, but switched to a server-client model in 2014.[10] Ek serves as CEO of Spotify.[11] In October 2015, Spotify Co-Founder Martin Lorentzon announced he would be stepping down as Chairman and Ek would be taking over alongside his current role as CEO.[12] As of April 2019, Spotify has 217 million active users[13] and as of June 2017 had raised over $2.5 billion in venture funding.[14][15]

In 2017, Daniel Ek was named as the most powerful person in the music industry by Billboard.[16]

Political positionsEdit

In 2016, Ek and fellow Spotify co-founder Martin Lorentzon wrote an open letter on the blogging platform Medium to the Swedish government saying that if certain changes to Swedish law regarding housing, taxation, and education are not made Spotify will be forced to re-locate from the country.[17] More specifically, Ek claims that the high taxes in Sweden on stock options makes it difficult to incentivize programmers to work at startups when startups have trouble competing with larger companies on salary. Moreover, Ek claims Swedish permitting policy is overly restrictive limiting the supply of affordable housing.[18]

Personal lifeEdit

In 2016, Ek married Sofia Levander, his longtime partner, at Lake Como. At Ek's wedding Bruno Mars was invited to perform and Chris Rock officiated; he invited numerous guests, including Mark Zuckerberg.[19] Ek and his wife have two children together.

Net worthEdit

It was reported in 2016 that Ek owns approximately $825 million of Spotify, when it was valued at $8 billion.[20] Spotify has since been valued at $16 billion which would put Ek's share at $1.6 billion assuming he has not sold any of his stake.[21]


  1. ^ Will Schmidt (21 Feb 2014). "Happy Birthday Daniel Ek!". Tech.Co. Retrieved 3 Sep 2016.
  2. ^ "How Spotify's college-dropout founder became a self-made millionaire at 23 — and a billionaire at 35". CNBC. April 4, 2018. Retrieved April 10, 2018. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  3. ^ Brendan Greeley (14 Jul 2011). "Spotify's Ek Wins Over Music Pirates With Labels' Approval". Bloomberg. Retrieved 3 Sep 2016.
  4. ^ "Spotify's Daniel Ek: The Most Important Man In Music"..
  5. ^ a b "Daniel Ek's "impossible thinking" started at age 13 with a Web development mini-empire". Retrieved 2017-12-06..
  6. ^ a b "Daniel Ek profile: 'Spotify will be worth tens of billions'". Retrieved 6 Dec 2017..
  7. ^ Andy (12 Nov 2014). "Spotify Reminded of uTorrent Past After Branding Grooveshark 'Pirates'". Torrent Freak. Retrieved 3 Sep 2016.
  8. ^ Reuters (24 May 2016). "Spotify Subscriptions Boost Revenue But Operating Loss Widens". Fortune. Retrieved 3 Sep 2016.
  9. ^ Robert Levine (5 Jun 2015). "Billboard Cover: Spotify CEO Daniel Ek on Taylor Swift, His 'Freemium' Business Model and Why He's Saving the Music Industry". Billboard. Retrieved 3 Sep 2016.
  10. ^ Janko Roettgers (16 Apr 2014). "Spotify gives up on P2P technology for music streaming". GigaOm. Retrieved 3 Sep 2016.
  11. ^ "Spotify Information". Retrieved 2009-09-19.
  12. ^ Lunden, Ingrid. "Spotify co-founder Martin Lorentzon steps down as chairman, CEO Daniel Ek steps up". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2016-10-14.
  13. ^ "Spotify Reports First Quarter 2019 Earnings". Spotify. 2019-04-29. Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  14. ^ Micah Singleton. "Spotify now has 140 million active users".
  15. ^ "Spotify on Crunchbase".
  16. ^ music, Guardian (2017-02-10). "Spotify's Daniel Ek named most powerful person in the music business". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-03-29.
  17. ^ "Sweden must change quickly": Spotify threatens to leave the country".
  18. ^ "Daniel Ek".
  19. ^ "Billboard Power 100's New No. 1: Spotify Streaming Pioneer Daniel Ek". Billboard. Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  20. ^ "Spotify Co-founders Own an Estimated $1.8bn Stake in Company".
  21. ^ "Exclusive: Spotify's valuation turned up to $16 billion in private trades - sources".