🎶 Spotify acquires its "ESPN"

Thursday, February 6, 2020 by Robinhood Snacks | Disclosures

"I did not see that acquisition coming!"

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Hey Snackers,

Day 3 of the TBOY Awards is upon us. Last night, WeWork's Adam Neumann took home the TBOY Trophy for Best CEO in a Leaving Role (fugitive Carlos Ghosn was runner-up).

Now we're going international. Join us @RobinhoodSnacks on Twitter to vote for our next category, Best Foreign Firm:

  • 🍺 AB InBev, Belgium: went hard on BudLight seltzer
  • 🎶 Spotify, Sweden: went hard on podcasts
  • 👟 Adidas, Germany: launched Beyonce's line
  • ☕️ Luckin, China: tripled coffee shops, 6X'd revenue

Tesla's epic rally came to an end, but markets soared to record highs. Plus, China announced overnight it'll halve many of its tariffs on US goods. Happy Thursday.

1. Spotify acquires The Ringer, adding a big, sporty fish to its pod pond

Primed for pod-ification... Spotify has doubled-down on its podcast offerings. The latest catch: The Ringer — ex-ESPN personality Bill Simmons' podcast network, offering 30 sports pods (+ other topics) and reportedly boasting around 100M monthly downloads. Spotify thinks podcasts are the radio of the future, so it's going in big:

  • Last year: Spotify shelled out over $400M to buy podcast companies like Gimlet (pod producer), Parcast (original shows), and Anchor (DIY pod recording software).
  • By December: 500K podcasts were on Spotify's platform.
  • Today: Its pod-ience (pod audience?) has almost doubled since the start of 2019. More than 16% of Spotify's monthly users listen to podcasts, and that's driving sign-ups for its paid version.
  • Now: It's using the Ringer to up its sports offerings. Because, you know, sports is kind of a popular topic. "We bought the next ESPN" — Spotify's CEO Daniel Ek.

The results are in... Spotify added a record number of paying subscribers for the quarter (11M), and now has 124M total (271M including its non-paying users). But that pod-ification has also cost it big. It lost $85M this quarter, in part thanks to its costly pod-cquisitions.


This could mean pod war... Apple is #1 in podcasts, Spotify is #2. But Spotify's got a huge lead in paying ears overall with 124M subscribers compared to Apple Music's 60M. The Ringer pods (like most of Spotify's) will still be available on other platforms, like Apple. But someday Spotify might make them exclusive to its app in a gated audio garden — if Apple does the same, it'll be a "choose your side" pod world.


Do it for the 'gram... Or for the $20B. Facebook-owned Instagram brought in that much ad revenue last year, according to Bloomberg and PFWTM (people familiar with the matter). That Insta-ad money represents over 25% of Facebook's total revenue and beats YouTube's $15B (YouTube's parent, Alphabet, just revealed its revenues this week).

  • YouTube: We've all seen (and skipped) the ads before a video. You'd think 2B+ users would mean more ad money for YouTube. Buuut, over half that ad $$$ goes to video creators.
  • Instagram: Doesn't pay creators because it throws ads between friends' Stories and sprinkles them into your feed. Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for $1B — but since Facebook's now worth $600B and Insta is 25% of its revenues, the 'Gram is arguably worth $150B now.

The whole family... Facebook doesn't disclose revenue for its individual "children," bundling their financial info instead into their so-called "family of apps."

  • Facebook: The old parent, always cracking dad-jokes and sharing pictures of ferns and grandchildren.
  • Instagram: The too-cool-for-school teen child. Super fashionable, always taking Valencia-filtered selfies, and perennially drinking craft coffees while chilling on a white-sand beach.
  • WhatsApp: The cool, foreign cousin that's always studying abroad somewhere and reading Kant.
  • Messenger: The distant aunt that you always forget exists but go to when you need some random specific thing.

Focusing on "the family" could be a strategic move... FB's social media dominance is why it's being investigated by the government. Zuck's giant baby could get broken up to restore competition — that could include dropping Insta. Since Instagram generates more ad revenue than NBC, ABC, and Fox combined, Zuck may downplay that alarming fact by keeping Instagram's numbers on the down-low.

What else we’re Snackin’
  • Snoozed: Casper cuts its (already slashed) IPO price even further to $12/share — that lowers its valuation down from $1.1B to under $500M
  • Brakes: Tesla shares fell almost 25% from the peak of Tuesday's all-time-high rally
  • Swipey: Match-owned Tinder made $1.2B last year off people paying for premium Tinder subscriptions (unlimited swipes, more profile views)
  • LinkedOut: The CEO of Microsoft's-LinkedIn is stepping down after 11 years helping recruiters message you (endorse him for "social networks")
  • Away: Vodafone, Earth's 2nd largest mobile operator (huge in Europe), will remove Huawei equipment from the core of its mobile networks on Chinese spy worries

Sign up for Robinhood, our commission-free investing app, and get a free stock. Already on Robinhood? You'll still get a free stock for getting a friend to sign up (they'll get one too).

Snacks Daily Podcast

Chipotle is the Prince William to Taco Bell's Prince Harry — One's more premium, one's more fun. The new Chipotle CEO used to be a Doritos Locos guy, so he brought Taco Bell hackiness with him.

Learn how the Taco-Bellification of Chipotle boosted sales at each store by 13% on Snacks Daily, our 15-minute pod.


Disclosure: Authors of this Snacks own shares of Spotify and Apple

ID: 1082146

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