Why did Andreas Ehn leave Spotify? The Playlist sheds light on CTO's sudden departure

The Playlist
Andreas Ehn and Joel Lützow (Images via Startups and Actors In Scandinavia)

The Playlist is a rare insider tale that gives viewers multiple accounts of the same events. One such account is that of Spotify's former CTO Andreas Ehn (Joel Lützow). The seemingly introverted programmer's narrative drives the fourth episode, titled The Coder, which led the core team that built Spotify.

Andreas Ehn, apart from being Spotify's CTO, was also its first employee. He spent close to 3.5 years with the music streaming service. Moreover, as its CTO, he was influential in building its system. Not only was Ehn a system architect, he was also a central figure in the hiring and management of the tech and product teams.

Did The Playlist depict Andreas Ehn's leave from Spotify accurately?

In The Playlist, Andreas Ehn is introduced to viewers as a developer working a dead-end job at Stardoll. Lured by Daniel Ek's vision for a legal music streaming service that is free for all, he walks out of Stardoll and is hired by Ek as Spotify's first employee and CTO. Ehn handpicks the team that builds Spotify from the ground up, encountering and overcoming various obstacles that the project faced.

He is shown growing disgruntled with management and the new turns that Spotify takes, especially after Petra Hannson (Gizem Erdogan) is brought onboard as its legal counsel. Hansson's commercialization of Spotify, stemming from her pursuit of sustainability, irked Ehn. This and other issues with Daniel Ek also affected his personal life and resulted in Lisa (Hanna Ardéhn), his partner, leaving him.

Following the deal with Pet Sundin and the official launch of Spotify, Ehn is seen leaving the launch party and opting to travel the world with Lisa. In reality, the reason behind Ehn's departure was something a lot more personal than it was depicted in The Playlist.

Addressing his move in an interview with Startups, Ehn revealed that he left Sweden owing to "a personal education project" of his. He said:

"I want to learn more about the world. For this reason, I’ve set up a framework for myself where I should live in 10 different countries for the next 5 years. My goal is to get to know these places, the people, the cities, and the startups."

Ehn has not spoken openly about his departure from Spotify and is yet to comment on his portrayal in The Playlist.

Where is Andreas Ehn now?

Following his stint with Spotify, Ehn worked with Ocean Observation, functioning as their Board Director. Soon after, he co-founded Wrapp, a mobile online-to-offline customer acquisition service, where he also served as the CTO. Wrapp, at one point, had functioning workspaces set up in 18 countries, including Taiwan and Brazil.

He then went on to serve as a Board Director, Advisor, and Member for companies such as Shootitlive, Opbeat, Automile, EQT, Middle East Venture Partners. He continues to be a part of some of them. Ehn still dons many hats and is considered to be a serial entrepreneur. On the contrary, he doesn't think of himself as an inventor. Ehn said:

"I just want to make things better."

Andreas Ehn is currently based out of Singapore and is a Partner at Approach, a firm that specializes in business consulting and services. He is also a Member of the Investment Committee for the Southeast Asia Fund at Antler, a global venture capital firm.


All episodes of The Playlist are available for streaming exclusively on Spotify.

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Edited by Priya Majumdar
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