6 Takeaways From Spotify’s Unusual IPO Filing

A Spotify Ltd. logo sits on display as employees work at desktop computers inside the music streaming company's offices in Berlin, Germany, on Friday, June 17, 2016. Photograph by Krisztian Bocsi — Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Music streaming company Spotify finally filed for its non-traditional IPO yesterday, suggesting it will begin trading publicly later this month. Spotify is the first large, high-profile company to pursue a direct listing of its shares. It’s an unusual move with some clear benefits — no banks, no roadshow, no crazy fees, and no lock-up period.

But of course, the faster and cheaper route comes with risks. As it notes in its prospectus, there are no safeguards to protect it from volatility. It reads, “…the trading volume and price of our ordinary shares may be more volatile than if our ordinary shares were initially listed in connection with an underwritten initial public offering.”

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Some notes from the Form F-1:

• The filing showed heavy losses. Last year, when it generated €4.1 billion ($5.02 billion) in revenue, it lost €1.24 billion ($1.51 billion) — up from €539 million in 2016 and €230 million the year before that.

• Investors trading Spotify’s shares in private transactions have valued the company as highly as $23 billion.

• By the end of 2017, Spotify reported 159 million active users, including 71 million paying subscribers. “We believe that our number of Premium Subscribers is nearly double the size of our nearest competitor, Apple Music,” the filing said. The statement is in line with Apple’s report from February that it has approximately 36 million paid subscribers.

• The largest stakeholders are its two founders: CEO & co-founder Daniel Ek, who owns 25% of the company, and co-founder and director Martin Lorentzon, who owns 13%.

• The duo also has “beneficiary certificates,” which entitle them to extra voting rights. Ek has 37.3% voting power while Lorentzon has 43.1%.

• Spotify intends to list on the NYSE under the symbol “SPOT.”

The bottom line is: All eyes will be on Spotify’s much-anticipated IPO. Depending on how it goes, the company’s direct listing could serve as a template for existing unicorns looking for a cheaper, more innovative approach to going public.

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