Who is Daniel Ek? The Spotify billionaire who wants to buy Arsenal

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The name Daniel Ek was thrust into the headlines over the weekend after the Spotify founder went public with his interest in buying Arsenal. Ek timed his approach perfectly, with the Gunners’ fanbase in uproar following Arsenal’s involvement in the controversial European Super League plans.

Arsenal fans have been one of many groups to voice their unhappiness with their club’s ownership and decision to become a founding member of the Super League.

Although the plans, which were fronted by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and Juventus chief Andrea Agnelli, fell apart within 48 hours last week after widespread and united opposition from the football world, that hasn’t stopped fans from protesting.

Several thousand Arsenal fans have protested outside the Emirates Stadium over the weekend, calling for the Kroenke family to sell the club.

The protests were followed by a tweet on Friday night from Ek, which has caused quite the stir.

He wrote: “As a kid growing up, I’ve cheered for @Arsenal as long as I can remember. If KSE would like to sell Arsenal I’d be happy to throw my hat in the ring.”

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According to the Daily Telegraph, Ek has joined forces with Arsenal legends Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Dennis Bergkamp to try and oust Stan Kroenke from the club.

Club director Josh Kroenke told a fans forum last week that the Kroenke family currently has “no intention of selling” Arsenal, but the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust said on Friday they “will support any potential purchaser who will allow fans to own a real equity stake and give fans a meaningful say in how our club is run”.

The situation looks set to rumble on for some time, but just who is the man behind the plan to buy Arsenal?

Ek is a 38-year-old Swedish entrepreneur, primarily known for founding music streaming service Spotify.

Born in Sweden’s capital city, Stockholm, in 1983, he has been a prolific businessman in the technology sector since the age of 13.

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Ek began developing websites and charging clients for his services while still at school and, having recruited classmates to scale up his efforts, he was reportedly earning $50,000 per month and by the age of 18.

During the early 2000s he was involved in a few successful online businesses and after the sale of advertising company Advertigo he was wealthy enough to consider retirement.

However, Ek decided instead to follow up an idea for an online peer-to-peer music platform he had previously had when watching the rise of illegal pirate websites.

Spotify was launched in Sweden in 2006 and has since grown exponentially to become one of the biggest and most influential companies in the entertainment industry.

As of December 2020 Spotify had 345million active monthly users and Forbes estimates the company to be worth £51.9billion.

Ek was ranked as the most powerful person in the music industry by Billboard magazine in 2017 and is personally worth about £3.4bn, according to Forbes.

He married his longtime partner Sofia Levander in 2017 at Italy’s Lake Como and his wedding was attended by musician Bruno Mars, comedian Chris Rock and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

While Spotify has continued to go from strength to strength in recent years, its rise has not come without criticism.

Many people in the music industry have argued that giant streaming platforms are stifling artists, because they are not fairly compensated for their work.

Ek was widely criticised last year for saying that artists need to release albums more frequently in order to make the most of their audience on Spotify.

“In the entire existence [of Spotify] I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single artist [publicly say] ‘I’m happy with all the money I’m getting from streaming’” he told Music Ally.

“In private, they have done that many times, but in public they have no incentive to do it. But unequivocally, from the data, there are more and more artists that are able to live off streaming income in itself. You can’t record music once every three to four years and think that’s going to be enough.”

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