A few weeks ago, I asked European investor Saul Klein to name the single entrepreneur in Europe that young entrepreneurs should aspire to be like. He answered without hesitation: Spotify’s Daniel Ek.
His description of what Ek has achieved – in possibly the single hardest space of the consumer Internet –reminded me to rewatch our PandoMonthly interview with him several years ago. Ek, now a father who has instituted generous leave plans, only had a girlfriend at the time, and Spotify was “merely” valued at $ 3bn.
I forgot how honest he was in the interview, and also how funny it was.
Sure, there’s his philosophy on the company, but per Klein’s instruction that he should be the model of European entrepreneurs, I was struck by his “origin story.” It started by my saying I realized he put in a lot of the money to start Spotify but asking where that money came from. A strange tale of 14-year-old to 22-year-old moguldom ensued, from building home pages for people for $ 100 to starting SEO companies mining the rise of search engines.
In his early 20s, he was facing down personal bankruptcy when suddenly Skype sold to eBay and – in Ek’s words – became a “defining moment” for Europe. He sold several companies and wound up a millionaire.
But he was miserable. He wanted to do something that mattered, to focus on one thing that could be substantial. Only two things had mattered to him: Music and technology, going back to his early years where his parents gave him a guitar and a shitty computer.
For those who emulate Ek now, it’s important to understand how he became that guy. The clip is below, set to start at the relevant part. Feel free to rewind and watch the whole thing.
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