daniel-ek

Who is Daniel Ek?

Daniel Ek is a Swedish entrepreneur and billionaire who co-founded Spotify in 2006 alongside friend and business partner Martin Lorentzon. Like Lorentzon, Ek was interested in business from an early age and, as a teenager, created websites for businesses and sold hosting services out of his bedroom.

Website and hosting business

Ek’s business became so popular that he had to bribe students from his class with video games to work on the websites from the school’s computers. 

Ek charged $100 for the first website, $200 for the second, and so on. After some time, he was selling them for $5,000 each and by the time he turned 18, he was earning around $50,000 per month with a staff of 25 employees.

Tradera, Stardoll, and Advertigo

Ek graduated from high school in 2002 and decided to enroll as an engineering student at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

In an interview with CNBC, Ek noted his decision to enroll was influenced by the Swedish Government which had contacted the entrepreneur and told him that he owed $200,000 in unpaid income tax. 

Nevertheless, Ek left university after just eight weeks to focus on his IT-related endeavors.

He initially found himself in a senior role at Tradera, a Swedish online auction marketplace that was later acquired by eBay in 2006.

He then served as CTO of Stardoll, a browser-based game and one of the world’s largest online fashion communities.

Eventually, Ek founded online advertising platform Advertigo which he sold to the digital marketing company Tradedoubler in 2006. Ek netted around $1.25 million in the sale and decided to retire at the age of 23.

After the purchase of a new Ferrari and luxury apartment in the middle of Stockholm, Ek realized that money was not as important as working on a project he was passionate about.

Founding Spotify

Teaming up with Tradedoubler founder Martin Lorentzon, Ek decided that his next big project was Spotify.

They drew inspiration from Napster but hoped to avoid the legal issues Napster encountered by streaming the music and entering into licensing deals with record companies.

The result of two years of hard graft, Spotify was launched in 2008 to the European market.

The company also secured critical early funding from Napster founder Sean Parker, with Ek realizing that the pair had chatted online for years since they were teenagers without either knowing the other’s identity.

When Lorentzon announced that he would be stepping down as Spotify chairman in 2015, Ek took on the role in addition to his existing position as CEO. He remains CEO today.

Key takeaways:

  • Daniel Ek is a Swedish entrepreneur and billionaire who co-founded Spotify in 2006 alongside friend and business partner Martin Lorentzon.
  • Ek was making around $50,000 per month from his bedroom as an 18-year-old selling websites and hosting services. He then decided to study at university after receiving a hefty tax bill from the Swedish government. 
  • Ek dropped out of university after just eight weeks to focus on his passion for IT. He eventually founded the online advertising company Advertigo and then created Spotify with its founder Martin Lorentzon.

Read Next: Spotify Business Model, Spotify Advertising Business, Spotify Model.

Scroll to Top
FourWeekMBA