Daniel Ek (born February 21, 1983) is a Swedish billionaire entrepreneur and technologist. Ek is known for being the co-founder and CEO of music streaming service Spotify. Ek grew up in the Rågsved district of Stockholm, Sweden.
Ek graduated high school in 2002 from IT-Gymnasiet in Sundbyberg and proceeded to study engineering at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, where he dropped out to focus on his IT Career.
Ek was introduced to business at a very young age when he started designing websites for clients from his home. He recalled charging his first client $100 and increasing his price by charging his next client $200 until he began charging $5,000 per website. To expand his business, Ek recruited students 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.
Thanks to his experience in tech as a website developer, Ek would later go on to serve in a senior role at Nordic auction company, Tradera which eBay acquired in 2006. He also served as the CTO (Chief Technology Officer) of the browser-based game and fashion community Stardoll. Later on, Ek started another company Advertigo, an online advertising company, until it was sold to TradeDoubler in 2006. After the sale of Advertigo, Ek briefly served as the CEO μTorrent, working with μTorrent founder Ludvig Strigeus. This ended when μTorrent was sold to BitTorrent on December 7 of 2006.
After the sale of Advertigo and the money he made from his previous business endeavors, Ek was wealthy enough and decided to retire. Although that didn’t last for long, because a few months later, he was back at work, having realized he wanted a new project; here, Spotify was born.
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 “realized that you could never legislate away from piracy. Laws can 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.”
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 Ek and his wife have two children together.
Ek is a lifelong supporter of Premier League club Arsenal and, in April 2021, expressed an interest in purchasing the football club if it were put up for sale.
In 2016, Ek owned approximately $825 million of Spotify (10.3%) when it was valued at $8 billion. As of 2017, Spotify was valued at $16 billion, putting Ek’s share at over $1.6 billion, assuming he did not sell any of his stakes. Since 2017 the Spotify Enterprise Value has risen to over $58 billion.