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Earnings

Spotify earnings: The lure of a free product

Spotify added more subscribers than expected, beating analysts' profit estimates

Spotify
Spotify
  • Q1 revenue: $2.02 billion (+22% YoY, vs. $2.03 billion expected)
  • Q1 earnings: $1.09 million (up from -$141 million Q1 2019, above expectations)
  • Full-year guidance: The company reiterated full-year guidance, but reduced revenue forecasts from $8.84 - 9.28 billion to $8.37 - 8.81 billion.

The big number: Spotify says it now has 130 million premium subscribers, a 31% jump from a year ago and above expectations of 128.6 million. Guidance for next quarter was pretty much in line with expectations, though: Spotify said it expects 133 million to 138 million vs. the 136.5 million analysts expect.

People are talking: "Today, 19% of our Total MAUs engage with podcast content, up from 16% in Q4 2019." — Spotify told investors that its investment in podcast production seems to be paying off.

Opportunities: Spotify thinks its free tier presents an opportunity in a downturn. CEO Daniel Ek said it allows the company to better compete against services like Apple Music, which are paid-only, at a time when consumer finances are under pressure. "60% of our paid subscribers come from our free tier," Ek said on the earnings call, so the company could see long-term benefits from that. However, the company cited a slowdown in advertising as a reason it reduced revenue expectations, although it said currency fluctuations were having a greater impact.

Threats: Churn "ticked up just a teeny bit sequentially" last quarter, Ek said, and that's a trend that could continue as the economy worsens. Still, Spotify stressed the improvement in churn rates year-on-year, and said 80% of those who said they canceled due to COVID told the company they're likely to return "once the economic situation improves."

The power struggle: Ek made it very clear that he doesn't view Apple Music as his major competitor, instead saying that Spotify's going after the billions of radio listeners that don't use any streaming service — some of whom, no longer in their cars, may now be trying Spotify for the first time. "Linear and physical will move to on demand, and that trend line will be accelerated due to this pandemic as more and more people are learning new habits," he said.

People

Making the economy work for Black entrepreneurs

Funding for Black-owned startups needs to grow. That's just the start.

"There is no quick fix to close the racial wealth and opportunity gaps, but there are many ways companies can help," said Mastercard's Michael Froman.

Photo: DigitalVision/Getty Images

Michael Froman is the vice chairman and president of Strategic Growth for Mastercard.

When Tanya Van Court's daughter shared her 9th birthday wish list — a bike and an investment account — Tanya had a moment of inspiration. She wondered whether helping more kids get excited about saving for goals and learning simple financial principles could help them build a pathway to financial security. With a goal of reaching every kid in America, she founded Goalsetter, a savings and financial literacy app for kids. Last month, Tanya brought in backers including NBA stars Kevin Durant and Chris Paul, raising $3.9 million in seed funding.

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Michael Froman
Michael Froman serves as vice chairman and president, Strategic Growth for Mastercard. He and his team drive inclusive growth efforts and partner across public and private sectors to address major societal and economic issues. From 2013 to 2017, Mike served as the U.S. trade representative, President Barack Obama’s principal adviser and negotiator on international trade and investment issues. He is a distinguished fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the board of directors of The Walt Disney Company.
Sponsored Content

Building better relationships in the age of all-remote work

How Stripe, Xero and ModSquad work with external partners and customers in Slack channels to build stronger, lasting relationships.

Image: Original by Damian Zaleski

Every business leader knows you can learn the most about your customers and partners by meeting them face-to-face. But in the wake of Covid-19, the kinds of conversations that were taking place over coffee, meals and in company halls are now relegated to video conferences—which can be less effective for nurturing relationships—and email.

Email inboxes, with hard-to-search threads and siloed messages, not only slow down communication but are also an easy target for scammers. Earlier this year, Google reported more than 18 million daily malware and phishing emails related to Covid-19 scams in just one week and more than 240 million daily spam messages.

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Transforming 2021

Blockchain, QR codes and your phone: the race to build vaccine passports

Digital verification systems could give people the freedom to work and travel. Here's how they could actually happen.

One day, you might not need to carry that physical passport around, either.

Photo: CommonPass

There will come a time, hopefully in the near future, when you'll feel comfortable getting on a plane again. You might even stop at the lounge at the airport, head to the regional office when you land and maybe even see a concert that evening. This seemingly distant reality will depend upon vaccine rollouts continuing on schedule, an open-sourced digital verification system and, amazingly, the blockchain.

Several countries around the world have begun to prepare for what comes after vaccinations. Swaths of the population will be vaccinated before others, but that hasn't stopped industries decimated by the pandemic from pioneering ways to get some people back to work and play. One of the most promising efforts is the idea of a "vaccine passport," which would allow individuals to show proof that they've been vaccinated against COVID-19 in a way that could be verified by businesses to allow them to travel, work or relax in public without a great fear of spreading the virus.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

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