DANIEL EK Drew Angerer Getty Images

Drew Angerer/GettyImages

Daniel Ek

CEO, Spotify

Spotify’s chief executive, Daniel Ek, revolutionized digital music when he set up the streaming service in 2006 along with his cofounder, Martin Lorentzon. Despite intense competition from YouTube, Apple Music, and others, Spotify has grown to become the biggest subscription music service globally with 138 million subscribers.

Ek is reserved, rarely grants media interviews, and has an industry reputation for being something of a dork. He is evidently intensely ambitious and willing to keep fighting the major US tech giants to build Spotify into a global success story.

In 2018 Ek told Fast Company he was highly organized and didn’t “do social calls,” saying: “What I tell my friends is, I like to be invited but I probably won’t come. The transparency helps. This is how I’m wired. It’s not a personal thing. It doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy your company. It just means that I’m focusing on something.”

That focus and ambition shows. In 2019 Spotify took a public shot at Apple, filing an EU antitrust complaint over the terms of the App Store. This complaint led to the EU opening an investigation in June into the App Store and whether its rules for developments violate its competition rules, creating further regulatory headaches for Apple.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV in May, Ek said Apple was "moving in the right direction" in terms of competition. He also signaled his intent to continue building Spotify into an independent giant, saying he was not interested in selling his company to a US media firm such as Netflix.