Spotify's playlist doesn't include its CTO, who tweets his departure

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[UK/Sweden] Streaming music startup Spotify has confirmed that its CTO has left, effective today. Andreas Ehn tweeted about his departure this morning, in a move which has taken observers by surprise. The company is currently prepping a big launch in the U.S., a watershed which would normally suggest that this is a moment to have all hands on deck. Losing your CTO right now is probably not the best timing, to put it mildly.

However, a Spotify spokesperson has told me that they’d “like to thank Andreas for all his brilliant work” and “everybody at Spotify wishes him well in the future as he seeks out new and, no doubt, extraordinarily complex challenges!” I’m sure this isn’t meant to sound back-handed but Ehn’s tweets paint a slightly less rosy picture.

Spotify added that “We’ll be introducing our new CTO soon.” So the old guy is out and the new CTO is already lined up.

Ehn said he’s “Leaving Spotify for new ventures. Feeling a little sad but very excited and full of energy. :)”

He also thanked his Twitter followers and said he’d “probably need quite a bit” of luck.

It doesn’t read like he’s been poached by another company then, assuming the ‘new ventures’ is just a generic term for ‘pastures new’. Would you leave one of the hottest startups on the planet right now for a new venture? We’ve contacted him to get his comment [Update: see below].

The Stockholm-born, Luxembourg-registered, but London-based startup (yes, it’s that complex) may well have scaling issues. It’s gone invite only in all territories in recent weeks, which probably suggests its platform needs further work ahead of the U.S. launch.

The move is reminiscent of Twitter famously letting go it’s CTO Blaine Cook after the service crumbled under the weight of new users.

UPDATE: Ehn has contacted us to say: “Regarding growth and invites: Spotify doesn’t have a technical scalability problem at the moment.” He also says he’s not going public with his new venture: “I’d much rather show something that works than hype it now.”

UPDATE II: We’ve now obtained Andreas Ehn’s email to friends and colleagues announcing his departure (emails removes), below:

From: Andreas Ehn
Subject: Moving on

Today was my last day as CTO at Spotify. Having spent three very
exciting years seeing the company grow from the first six employees
assembling IKEA desks in an old Stockholm apartment and drawing the
first system diagrams and user interface sketches on brand new
whiteboards to the 100+ employee company with offices all over Europe
and six million users, it is time to move on. I have a few ideas of my
own that I plan to pursue, but am always open to suggestions about
what to do next.

You will be able to reach me at XXXX@XX.XX. Please be in touch!

Thanks,
Andreas

[Hat-tip, Arctic Startups]

  • tenthings

    it’s all tweculation

  • http://www.billhartzer.com/ Bill Hartzer

    I’m sure he knows whether or not it’s going to crumble on the weight of new users or not. Whatever he ends up doing, I’m sure that Andreas will find himself somewhere else.

  • Gareth Evans

    It’s a financial scaleability issue rather than a technology issue. so i’m not sure the twitter comparison is valid.
    They have to pay royalties everytime someone listens to a track. The revenue generated by advertising isn’t covering the royalties and the number of premium users isn’t as high as they’d like.

  • Jack

    He is definitely one of the most skilled CTO´s in the world. I surprise move on hist part to say the least. I wonder where he is going…And I´m also very curious about who will be the new CTO..

    Gareth Evans:
    “the umber of premium users isn’t as high as they’d like”

    They are of course trying to gain more premium users.. but at this moment they are already the largest music subscription service in Europe so I don´t think they need to worry too much.

  • Jack

    To clarify: by largest music subscription service I mean they have largest amount of paying users, competing with Napster, Wimp, Deezer and some others….

  • WURD!

    “I’d much rather show something that works than hype it now.”

    This is the exact opposite of what Spotify is doing. JUST HYPING THEIR ASSES OFF.

    I don’t wish them bad, but honestly, Spotify isn’t too different from any other music subscription service out there.

    • http://www.myOnePage.com/Oo OoTheNigerian

      Do you use Spotify? I sincerely doubt it.

      • wurd-er!

        do you use “other music subscription service out there”? you should sincerely watch your back.

    • Adam

      I think it’s the media that is hyping Spotify, not themselves. Last 2 posts on TC are for Spotify, slow news day? But then, it is good. :)

  • Alex

    Well at least the guy is walking away with 1 penny stock options and 3 years of vesting on his original grant which must have been pretty nice.

  • http://romeda.org/ Blaine Cook

    Hey Mike, I thought you were a nice guy…

    I really wish you guys would drop it with the me-leaving-Twitter stuff. The original post on TechCrunch was an unfounded character assassination, which you admitted as much to me. The site was doing fine when I left in mid-March, and it crumbled two full months later due to their neglect to address scaling concerns.

  • nick

    Nick: [sits down with a bowl of popcorn]

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  • http://www.foxleymarketingsolutions.com Karl Foxley

    I’m a fan of Spotify and here is wishing Andreas Ehn every success with his new venture.

  • PolaroidDays

    I am in the U.S. and have been following the Spotify development closely as of late. I understand it’s the math that is giving them trouble. That said, I don’t know a single person with an iPhone who would NOT pay $10 per month to have infinite playlist access on their phones. I understand the price may start higher but I’m certain that a substantial share of iPhone users would still pay whatever early adopter premium there is. Eventually the price will have to come down but that can wait until PDA saturation in the U.S. market is more complete. That pace will start to quicken once the full potential of Android begins to be realized over the next 18 to 24 months.

    The days of owning music are over. That’s what vinyl is for. We’re all sitting around here waiting for the subscription service we expect to finally arrive. It baffles me that the music industry hasn’t learned what happens when they try to live in the past. Don’t stand in the doorway and block up the halls…

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