As Spotify readies itself to launch on the New York Stock Exchange later today, industry analysts from both Silicon Valley and Wall Street are keeping a close eye on the music streaming service, which is serving as a test case for an unconventional method of going public.
The company has chosen to undergo a direct listing, the NYSE's first-ever, where existing investors will be able to buy and sell shares in the firm but no new shares will be made available to the public at large. The method means that Spotify is unlikely to raise a large amount of capital from going public, but also ensure it won't further dilute its control over the firm. It also enables it to go public without having to hire an investment bank or broker to underwrite the process.
If Spotify's listing performs well, then other highly valued tech firms including Uber and Lyfy could well follow suit, which in turn could result in Wall Street banks missing out on millions of dollars of revenue due to the lost business from underwriting fees.
Ahead of the listing, the NYSE has set the company's reference price at $132 (£94), but this does not serve as either an offering price or an opening public price, which will be determined by the buy and sell orders collected from broker-dealers.
"Spotify is not raising capital, and our shareholders and employees have been free to buy and sell our stock for years," said Daniel Ek, founder and CEO of Spotify, in a statement made before the listing. "So while tomorrow puts us on a bigger stage, it doesn't change who we ware, what we are about, or how we operate.
"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. 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."
Ek also warned that he had "no doubt there will be ups and downs", a sentiment shared by many market experts, who said that by foregoing traditional investment banks and promotional events, Spotify's stocks could see extreme trading volatilty when formal trading begins.
However, after disappointing IPOs by tech-focused companies like Snap and Blue Apron, it will be the price at the end of the day that is most important to both Spotify's executives, and those keepign a close eye on the firm.