Spotify CEO Allegedly Was Taunted by Steve Jobs
A new book that aims to tell the story of Spotify from an inside perspective includes some interesting details about how Steve Jobs allegedly tried to intimidate Spotify’s CEO and founder Daniel Ek. The anecdote takes place years ago when Spotify was trying to break into the US.
Reported by Variety, the book opens with a curious scene about how Ek believes Steve Jobs is trying to get in his head with phone calls made up of just deep breathing.
The year is 2010 and Spotify co-founder and CEO Daniel Ek is facing a succession of obstacles gaining entry into the U.S. market — or, more specifically, infiltrating the tightly-networked and often nepotistic to a fault music industry. As stress sets in, Ek becomes convinced that Apple’s Steve Jobs is calling his phone just to breathe deeply on the other end of the line, he purportedly confesses to a colleague.
Spotify Untold (Spotify Inifrån) is currently only available in Swedish. Variety sat down with the book’s authors, Jonas Leijonhufvud and Sven Carlsson for an interview. Daniel Ek declined to speak to them as they wrote the book, but the authors say they had former top Spotify executives and investors as trusted sources.
When asked by Variety how they know if the story about Steve Jobs calling Ek is true, Carlsson said:
We have that from a trusted source. Whether Steve Jobs actually called Daniel Ek is something we can’t verify. To us, Ek’s claim is as a reflection of how paranoid and anxious he must have felt in 2010, when Spotify was being denied access to the U.S. market, in large part due to pressure from Apple. The major record companies seem to have been quite loyal to the iTunes Music Store, and to Jobs personally. Apple had roughly 80 percent of the market for digital music distribution in the U.S. at the time. Jobs saw music downloads via iTunes as a comparative advantage in his ‘holy war’ against Google’s Android platform.
The authors also noted Spotify and Apple’s current battle as a reason why Ek didn’t comment on the book.
Ek seems to have chosen to close the shutters completely. Personally, I can understand that. Spotify is challenging Apple on a legal level right now. We address Spotify’s constant struggle with Apple in our book. If Ek were to talk about such sensitive topics in book form, [Spotify would] do it in their own way with full control.
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