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

[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!


[Hat-tip, Arctic Startups]