Spotify CTO Andreas Ehn tweeted about leaving the company this morning, in a surprise move that might signal the direction of things at the Stockholm (er, Luxembourg) based startup.
When a CTO leaves a company as well regarded as Spotify, there can only be two possible explanations. The first is that he got poached by a bigger company with promises of more technical resources, and, obviously, straight cash. The second possibility is that the CTO, driven by the desire to solve complex problems, feels the technical challenges have been exhausted at his current company, and may even “trade down” to an earlier stage startup to regain the thrill of crunching that is the bulk of work at infant tech firms. What is the case here with Spotify? Well, it should already be clear – if you’ve been paying attention.
The Spotify blog had a post yesterday featuring their new television advertisement for the service. While this isn’t exactly the “U-turn” that some other tech bloggers seem to think (Bredbandsbolaget had teevee ads co-branded with Spotify back in 2008), it does indicate that they are moving towards a much stronger focus on revenue growth in 2010. As the company enters it’s third year, product development and user growth will take a back seat to sales. This is in fact a healthy development for the company, and shows they aren’t falling prey to the “product obsession” that plagues companies in Northern Europe. It’s also right on trend with the rest of the industry, according to this morning’s Wall Street Journal.
In the CTO world, there are too many delicious problems out there that need attacking, and no one wants to wait for revenue numbers to come up or options to mature. Whatever Andreas Ehn does next you can bet it will be at least as daunting a challenge as Spotify seemed in 2007, before he made it look easy.