- Age: 32
- Company: Spotify
- Best known for: Spotify, music streaming
- Quote: "I'm not an inventor. I just want to make things better."
Daniel Ek isn't just a great innovator – he's a disruptor. Before creating music streaming service Spotify, the Swedish entrepreneur was involved in a number of other big projects that foreshadowed what was to come.
Ek actually founded his first company, a website-building service, at the age of 14. At the age of 23 he became a multimillionaire after selling advertising company Advertigo to TradeDoubler.
However his big idea was for a music streaming service, but getting off the ground was going to be a challenge. In 2006 he became the CEO of file-sharing client uTorrent – a service that's not illegal, but which is often used to share files that are. As this was happening, Ludvig Strigeus, the man who built uTorrent, began building Spotify for Ek, who was soon pitching the idea to music labels.
He told executives that selling CDs was an idea of the past, and that the future lay in streaming over the internet. Ek's belief was that streaming music for free with adverts would work, because people would pay for the convenience of removing them.
Spotify was founded in 2006 by Ek and Martin Lorentzon, but didn't launch until 2008. It wasn't a global rollout, however. The service arrived in the UK in 2009 but didn't hit the United States until 2011. Spotify now has over 60 million users and continues to grow rapidly in size and reach.
Jump to now and it's obvious that Ek was right all along. Ek didn't just build a music platform, he taught the music industry that streaming was in its interest.
Spotify has completely revolutionised the way we listen to music, and has helped ease the problem of piracy eating into this industry.
Entrepreneur. Innovator. Disruptor.
- In partnership with Microsoft, powered by the HP Spectre x360
Article continues below