By 2021, Spotify had paid to sign some of the biggest names in podcasting, and it was ready to start squeezing its competitors.
The Swedish audio streaming giant had spent hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase podcast production companies and big name creators in the hopes of luring new subscribers to the platform. Now, Spotify chief content officer Dawn Ostroff — a TV veteran most famous for bringing Gossip Girl to the CW — was ready to stop many of these creators and companies from sharing podcasts on Apple and Amazon, and keep the content exclusively on Spotify.
Then Bill Simmons sent an email to her boss.
Simmons had sold the sports and pop culture audio empire The Ringer to Spotify a year earlier for $200 million. Now he wrote Spotify CEO Daniel Ek to argue for keeping the Ringer’s mass audience on Apple and its advertising revenue, driven by the explosion of sports betting.