Super Cities №78 — When Authenticity Trumps Risk

Brendan Hart

One Big Thing

Spotify Lists on NYSE as SPOT

“Lots of people have asked me how I feel about tomorrow’s listing. Of course, I am proud of what we’ve built over the last decade. But what’s even more important to me is that tomorrow does not become the most important day for Spotify.”


Yesterday I wrote about the growing importance of trust in business.

Today’s essay is about the immutable importance of authenticity.

For decades, companies have followed a pretty standard playbook for going public. Sometimes the playbook produces big wins; often it triggers hard losses.

Either way, the process is ironic: the company’s debutante event — its single best opportunity to let the world in on a valuable secret — is choreographed, staffed, and executed by outsiders.

Not Spotify.

Whether you care about streaming music or not, Spotify made a brave — and I believe strategically wise — decision to protect its authenticity.

It bypassed the playbook because, well, it just wasn’t them:

“Normally, companies ring bells. Normally, companies spend their day doing interviews on the trading floor touting why their stock is a good investment. Normally, companies don’t pursue a direct listing. While I appreciate that this path makes sense for most, Spotify has never been a normal kind of company.”

Investors told Spotify for months that a direct listing posed “risks upon risks.” While those operational risks proved inflated, Spotify’s core users and new believers are now rewarding its authenticity, its brand, and its stock price.

So when you are told to follow the tried-and-true playbook to success, remember there is no such thing. Remember Spotify.

Share