Observe: So why did you take the job?
Jeff Levick: I had a real desire to get back to business building. Spotify is a very 'disruptive' business and requires a lot of energy, travelling the world, setting up new offices. It's an invigorating proposition and has a highly intellectual business culture. I had lived and worked in Europe and learned a lot about the Swedish culture [Spotify is a Swedish company with its HQ in Stockholm]. The most important thing for me is that it's a founder-led company with an extreme focus on the product.
What was the first thing you encountered?
Well, I had a lot of work to do. Spotify scales nicely across Europe but it had just launched in the US and was rapidly expanding into other markets so there was a lot of organisation to be done quickly. We have gone from nine markets to 57 markets in just a few years and have 1,000 employees.
What were the most critical moments?
The first 12 months were the most challenging. We needed to grow a new hub in New York and I was probably oversensitive to getting it right. But we have now created common cultures between London, New York, Stockholm and so on. However, Asia is a big challenge for us because it is not close, it's a big commitment, and it requires a steeper learning curve. Conversely, we have been overwhelmed by the success of the brand in Latin America - just by showing up! People there tell others about Spotify through social media - there's a kind of openness about it that has really taken off in that part of the world.
What type of people were you looking for?
My role when I came in was not only about the business process but also what 'types' of people we should recruit. I needed people who understood what it means to build a global business at scale - billions of streams, billions of euros. What types of culture would work at Spotify? That means low ego, very collaborative. Because of this some of the key roles stayed open for 12 months. It was finding people who had the right cultural fit that took the time. We wanted great doers and great listeners.
One enduring memory?
We are still at the beginning of this journey and we're still learning from the way people interact with the music using faster networks, mobile devices and so on. Watching my kids use Spotify is a testament to its potential. They understand it and say to me: "You're going to work for Spotify forever aren't you?!"
Jeff Levick is chief marketing and revenue officer at Spotify, responsible for leading the company’s worldwide expansion
Photo by Brad Trent
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