Spotify enjoyed a successful Wall Street debut on Tuesday, experts say, garnering a $26.5 billion valuation. The company’s $149.01 closing price was about 13 percent more than the $132 reference price set by the New York Stock Exchange, which was based on how the stock traded on private markets before public trading began.
Spotify’s stock started the day off strong at $165.90 and experienced stable trading before falling later in the day. Analysts had anticipated volatility and perhaps irregularities during Spotify’s market debut because the company chose an unusual path to go public.
The music streaming giant, which trades under the symbol SPOT, bypassed many of the traditional steps of a Wall Street public offering. Company executives did not conduct a roadshow to persuade big institutional investors to buy shares. Its chief executive even skipped the usual New York Stock Exchange ritual of ringing the opening bell.
“Normally, companies ring bells. Normally, companies spend their day doing interviews on the trading floor touting why their stock is a good investment,” Daniel Ek, Spotify’s founder and chief executive, said in a blog post Monday. “As I mentioned during our Investor Day, our focus isn’t on the initial splash. Instead, we will be working on trying to build, plan, and imagine for the long term.”
What made Spotify’s public debut most notable, however, was how it offered its stock. Rather than issuing new shares, the Swedish company instead conducted a direct listing, in which no money was raised. Existing shares were sold by employees and investors. In part because of the unorthodox public listing, the company’s stock did not begin trading until a few hours after the opening bell, as potential sellers and buyers were matched up. Spotify’s public listing was the eighth largest in the tech sector, according to Dealogic.
“It was just the first day, but it was by all accounts a good day,” said Nicholas Colas, co-founder of DataTrek Research. If Spotify’s stock performs well in the weeks ahead, its direct listing could become a road map for the array of multibillion-dollar tech companies that investors are hoping will go public soon, including Airbnb, Lyft and Uber. “It opens the door to any unicorn out there that focuses on the consumer,” Colas said.
The market debut of the popular streaming service was closely watched by investors who were eager to see if a new tech stock could thrive in a volatile market. Spotify leads the music streaming industry with 71 million paying subscribers. And the company claims it’s still far ahead of its closest rival, Apple Music. Apple has said its music streaming service has 36 million subscribers, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Spotify has positioned itself as a key contributor to the reversal of the music industry’s decline, by persuading millions of people to pay for an on-demand music subscription service.
The company’s growth has been matched by increasing losses. It generated about $5 billion in revenue last year, up more than 40 percent from 2016, and a $1.5 billion net loss compared with about $664 million in 2016.
Spotify declined to comment for this story, citing the “quiet period” mandated by the SEC, which limits companies from making certain public statements during the process of going public.
Analysts say investors will get a better picture of Spotify’s stock performance in the weeks ahead, as the initial pop of the market debut recedes. Experts also emphasized the importance of the company’s first earnings report after going public, which will provide greater insight into its business for investors and industry competitors.
by Hamza Shaban and Renae Merle
Hamza Shaban is a technology reporter for The Washington Post. Before joining The Post in 2017, he covered tech policy for Buzzfeed.
Renae Merle covers white-collar crime and Wall Street for The Washington Post. She has also worked for the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press.