Who Owns Spotify: The Largest Shareholders Overview

Article Teaser: Who Owns Spotify: The Largest Shareholders Overview

Spotify Technology S.A. (SPOT) is a leading audio streaming provider. It makes money by selling its paid subscription allowing unlimited music and podcast streaming for a monthly fee. Spotify also has a popular free ad-supported service that is much less profitable and works mainly as a source of new paid subscribers. Let’s now look at who owns Spotify and who controls it.

The largest shareholder of Spotify Technology S.A. is asset manager Baillie Gifford, with an 12% ownership, followed by Martin Lorentzon (11%), Tencent (9%), T. Rowe Price (8%), and Daniel Ek (7%). Thanks to “supervoting” shares, founders Lorentzon and Ek hold 74% of all votes and have full control.

 Spotify's Largest Shareholders (Dec 2021)
Shareholder Ownership Voting Power
Baillie Gifford 11.5% 4.1%
Martin Lorentzon 10.9% 42.5%
Tencent 8.7% 0.0%
T. Rowe Price 8.4% 3.0%
Daniel Ek 7.3% 31.6%
Morgan Stanley 6.2% 2.2%
Other 47.0% 16.6%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC fillings

Spotify largest shareholders by share ownership and vote control (donut chart) Spotify largest shareholders by share ownership and vote control (donut chart)

As you can see from the table and visuals above, the top shareholder of Spotify is an asset manager Baillie Gifford.

However, if you add equity stakes of founders Martin Lorentzon and Daniel Ek together, then they hold the largest piece of Spotify equity.

Spotify founders Martin Lorentzon and Daniel Ek also control nearly 3/4 of company votes thanks to special supervoting certificates they hold.

Spotify has three over 5% asset manager shareholders (Baillie Gifford, T. Rowe Price, Morgan Stanley).

An interesting shareholder is also Tencent which currently holds 9% share of equity.

  • Tencent stake is a result of an agreed share swap in 2017 between Spotify and Tencent Music Entertainment (TME). Spotify has a stake in TME, and TME, through various Tencent subsidiaries, has a stake in Spotify.
  • Tencent does not hold any voting power, and voting power over those shares is exercised by Daniel Ek.

Spotify was founded in 2006 by Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon and became publicly traded after its IPO in 2018.

  • Right before its IPO, Martin Lorentzon owned 12% of Spotify and Daniel Ek 9% based on the company prospectus.

Spotify is headquartered in Sweden, but its holding company that is traded on NYSE is domiciled in Luxemburg. Luxemburg company then owns Sweden-based Spotify.

In this article, I will dive more into who Spotify’s largest shareholders are, how many shares and votes they have, and how much their stake is worth. I will also explore some other topics related to its ownership structure.

If you are interested, you can also explore who owns other companies like Roblox, Netflix, Twitter, or Tesla.

🕹️ Who Owns Spotify (SPOT) and Who Has Control?

Spotify largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

As is obvious from the above visual, Spotify founders have a sizable equity stake in the company, and on top of that, they have total control over it thanks to supervoting beneficiary certificates they hold.

Together they hold 74% of all votes, despite owning only 18% of the company.

  • Their outsized voting power is a result of special Beneficiary Certificates that Spotify issued to both founders. They got 10 certificates for each share they owned.
  • Beneficiary Certificates are not shares since they don’t have any economic rights associated with them. The only thing they give to its holder is extra votes.
  • Despite not being standard B-class supervoting share as we are used from US-based companies like Alphabet, Meta, or Roblox, those certificate has the same effect and are equivalent to founders owning B-class shares with 11 votes per share.
  • Spotify’s board of directors has quite a large leeway in how it can decide to who to issue beneficiary certificates.

Two founders are in control of the company, not only as shareholders. Daniel Ek serves as CEO of Spotify and chairman of the board. Martin Lorentzon is a Spotify board member and served as chairman for a long time.

Another reason Daniel Ek’s voting power is so large is that he exercises voting power to shares held by Tencent.

Spotify’s board has two classes of directors. Class A is represented by two founders and Shishir Mehrotra, former Google executive and co-founder and CEO of Coda. The rest of the board members are class B directors.

  • The purpose of this distinction is that for the board to have a quorum, there has to be at least one director from each class present.

🗳️ Breakdown of Spotify’s Outstanding Shares and Votes by Top Shareholders

Spotify Technology S.A. had a total of 192 million outstanding shares as of December 2021. The following table shows how many shares each Spotify’s large shareholder holds.

 Spotify's Outstanding Shares by Shareholder
In millions of shares as of December 2021
Shareholder Class A Total % Share
Baillie Gifford 22 22 11.5%
Martin Lorentzon 21 21 10.9%
Tencent 17 17 8.7%
T. Rowe Price 16 16 8.4%
Daniel Ek 14 14 7.3%
Morgan Stanley 12 12 6.2%
Other 90 90 47.0%
Total (# millions) 192 192 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC fillings

There were 543 million votes distributed among shareholders of Spotify Technology S.A.. The table below shows the total number of votes for each large shareholder.

 Spotify's Vote Control by Shareholder
In millions of votes as of December 2021
Shareholder Class A Class B Proxy Total % Share
Martin Lorentzon 21 210 - 231 42.5%
Daniel Ek 14 141 17 172 31.6%
Baillie Gifford 22 - - 22 4.1%
T. Rowe Price 16 - - 16 3.0%
Morgan Stanley 12 - - 12 2.2%
Tencent 17 - -17 - 0.0%
Other 90 - - 90 16.6%
Total (# millions) 192 351 - 543 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC fillings

You can see that the beneficiary certificates that founders hold are the key to their control of the company. I show them in Class B column. However they are not shares since they don’t give their holder any economic rights, only extra votes.

💵 Breakdown of Spotify’s Market Value by Shareholder

The following table summarizes how much is each shareholder’s stake in Spotify Technology S.A. worth.

However, keep in mind that a stake in Spotify could be just one part of their portfolio, and their total worth could be bigger, thanks to other investments. It could also be lower if they have debts.

 Spotify's Market Value by Shareholder
Market value in billions $ as of December 2021
Shareholder Class A Total % Share
Baillie Gifford $5 $5 11.5%
Martin Lorentzon $5 $5 10.9%
Tencent $4 $4 8.7%
T. Rowe Price $4 $4 8.4%
Daniel Ek $3 $3 7.3%
Morgan Stanley $3 $3 6.2%
Other $21 $21 47.0%
Total ($ billions) $45 $45 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC fillings

Let’s now look at each Spotify shareholder individually.

📒 Who Are the Largest Shareholders of Spotify Technology S.A.

Let’s now go through the list of the largest shareholders of Spotify Technology S.A. one by one and look at who they are, how many shares they own, what is their voting power, and how much is their stake in Spotify worth.

#1 Baillie Gifford

Baillie Gifford holds 12% of Spotify’s shares, making it its largest shareholder. However, its voting power is only 4% since some of the other shareholders hold super-voting shares that dilute Baillie Gifford’s control of Spotify.

Spotify largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Baillie Gifford owns 22 million Spotify shares, representing 22 million shareholder votes. The market value of Baillie Gifford’s stake in Spotify was $5 billion as of December 2021.

Baillie Gifford is an investment management firm founded in 1908 in Scotland, where it still has its headquarters. It grew to become an important player, managing investments for institutional and individual investors around the world.

Baillie Gifford is privately owned by its partners.

#2 Martin Lorentzon

Martin Lorentzon holds 11% of Spotify’s shares which makes him its second-largest shareholder. However, thanks to super-voting shares that Martin Lorentzon owns, his share of total votes is 42%.

Spotify largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Martin Lorentzon owns 21 million Spotify shares, representing 231 million shareholder votes. The market value of Martin Lorentzon’s stake in Spotify was $5 billion as of December 2021.

Martin Lorentzon is a Swedish entrepreneur known mainly as a co-founder and largest individual shareholder of Spotify.

He became rich before founding Spotify after he exited the company Tradedoubler that he co-founded. TradeDoubler acquired another company Advertigo in 2006, whose founder was Daniel Ek. Lorentzon and Ek later co-founded Spotify.

#3 Tencent

Tencent holds 9% of Spotify’s shares which makes it its third-largest shareholder. However it has no voting power since company transfered its votes to Spotify CEO Danial Ek.

Spotify largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Tencent owns 17 million Spotify shares, representing 0 million shareholder votes. The market value of Tencent’s stake in Spotify was $4 billion as of December 2021.

Tencent Holdings Ltd is a Chinese technology and entertainment giant known mainly as the company behind WeChat, a popular Chinese messaging app.

It was founded in 1998, and its activities include gaming, social media, fintech, and video and music streaming.

#4 T. Rowe Price

T. Rowe Price holds 8% of Spotify’s shares. However, its voting power is only 3% since some of the other shareholders hold super-voting shares that dilute T. Rowe Price’s control of Spotify.

Spotify largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

T. Rowe Price owns 16 million Spotify shares, representing 16 million shareholder votes. The market value of T. Rowe Price’s stake in Spotify was $4 billion as of December 2021.

T. Rowe Price Group, Inc. is a highly regarded US-based investment management firm offering services worldwide. It is a public company traded on Nasdaq.

#5 Daniel Ek

Daniel Ek holds 7% of Spotify’s shares. However, thanks to super-voting shares that Daniel Ek owns, his share of total votes is 32%.

Spotify largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Daniel Ek owns 14 million Spotify shares, representing 172 million shareholder votes. The market value of Daniel Ek’s stake in Spotify was $3 billion as of December 2021.

Daniel Ek is co-founder and CEO of Spotify. Spotify is not his first startup, as he is a founder of the online advertising company [Advertigo], which was later acquired by TradeDoubler.

It was the acquisition of Advertigo by TradeDoubler how Ek connected with another Swedish entrepreneur Martin Lorentzon. Together they founded Spotify in 2006.

#6 Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley holds 6% of Spotify’s shares. However, its voting power is only 2% since some of the other shareholders hold super-voting shares that dilute Morgan Stanley’s control of Spotify.

Spotify largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Morgan Stanley owns 12 million Spotify shares, representing 12 million shareholder votes. The market value of Morgan Stanley’s stake in Spotify was $3 billion as of December 2021.

Morgan Stanley is a global investment bank that provides its clients with services when they need to raise capital or advise during mergers and acquisitions. Morgan Stanley also has wealth management and investment management divisions.

In 2020, Morgan Stanley acquired E*Trade, a popular electronic trading platform.

❔ Why Tencent Owns Spotify?

In December 2017, Spotify and Tencent Music Entertainment agreed to a cooperative share swap. As a result, Chinese-based giant Tencent currently owns 9% of Spotify shares, and Spotify has a similar stake in Tencent Music Entertainment, which is also publicly traded.

Another peculiarity of Tencent ownership is that Tencent holds no voting power. Voting power to those shares is exercised by Spotify CEO Daniel Ek.

💸 Can Spotify Founders Sell or Transfer Their Supervoting Certificates to Somebody Else?

When Spotify founders sell their shares or transfer them in the event of their death to their heirs, the supervoting beneficiary certificates linked to those shares should cease to exist.

This means that sold or transferred stocks will, based on the rule in the company Statutes, turn into regular shares with one vote per share.

However, Spotify’s board has quite extensive powers concerning this, and they can, on a case-by-case basis, make an exception from this rule without asking shareholders for approval.

So the reality is, in extreme cases, control of the company can be transferred to different shareholders if the board agrees on it.

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