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Spotify CEO Daniel Ek is worth billions — but says he still feels 'inadequate every day'

Jyoti Mann   

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek is worth billions — but says he still feels 'inadequate every day'
  • Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek admitted to feeling not good enough every day despite his success.
  • He told Norges Bank Investment Management’s podcast “In Good Company” he often feels "inadequate."

Daniel Ek is a billionaire and CEO of one of the world’s best-known companies — but says he still feels “inadequate every day.”

The Spotify chief made the comment on Norges Bank Investment Management’s podcast “In Good Company” last month.

When the music streaming giant’s founder is asked if he's happy, Ek responds: “I still feel inadequate every day and still feel like shit when I’ve screwed up something — even how I formulate something like two minutes ago, ‘ah I should’ve done a better job’.”

He adds: “That’s constantly how I think about things. I constantly see problems as much as I see opportunities in front of us, and I feel impatient that I should do that.”

Ek, who Forbes estimates is worth about $4 billion, says he tries to overcome that feeling by surrounding himself with people at work he can joke with and learn from.

“I get to send them weird memes, which they don’t understand half the time, and send me weird question marks back, but it’s the way we roll with things and that brings me happiness,” he says.

Ek has often been uncharacteristically frank for a CEO about his self-doubt. In a LinkedIn post six months ago, he wrote that “like many others, I struggle with wanting to be liked.”

He said that he has a “guiding motto” from George Barnard Shaw displayed on a wall in his house reminding him not to “worry about conforming, and to persist.”

The quote reads: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

The Swedish entrepreneur became a billionaire after Spotify went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2018, which gave it a valuation of about $30 billion.

The stock has had a rollercoaster ride but is up 58% over the past five years, and 91% up over the past 12 months, leaving Spotify worth $46 billion.

The company has 239 million subscribers paying about $11 a month, as well as hundreds of millions more using an advertising-funded free version. About 70% of its revenue goes to music rights holders such as record companies and artists.

Spotify didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider, made outside normal working hours.

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