In December of 2006, BitTorrent Inc. announced that it was acquiring the μTorrent client, without disclosing any financial terms at the time. It turns out, what the company also did not disclose, was that it was purchasing the torrent client from none other than Spotify.
μTorrent launched in September of 2005, and quickly gained popularity due to its lack of bloatware, and therefore low footprint. Ludvig “Ludde” Strigeus, the creator of μTorrent, said at the time that the program could also be referred to as microtorrent, as μ is the SI prefix for micro.
As data and bandwidth were expensive commodities for a startup like Spotify, it was decided early on in its development that it would rely on a peer-to-peer network to distribute its content. Indeed, the company was doing exactly that, up until 2014.
It was then – after the launch of μTorrent but before the sale to BitTorrent – that Ludde’s work piqued interest of the folks at Spotify, who had not yet launched a working product. A few months before BitTorrent acquired μTorrent, Spotify already had its hands over it.
However, as it turns out, Spotify did not purchase μTorrent for its software – it purchased it for Ludde. "Spotify bought μTorrent, but what we really wanted was Ludvig Strigeus," former Spotify CTO Andreas Ehn told Swedish newspaper Breakit. “He had been, in principle, sole developer of his previous projects. Working with others on a common code base comes with new challenges, but for a number of years, he was the only one who worked on the Windows application.”
Spotify then sold μTorrent to BitTorrent, making a “huge profit,” though the exact amount remains undisclosed. In this trade, Ludde found his way into joint ownership of Spotify.
At a time when the Swedish music streaming service is preparing to begin trading its stocks publicly, it’s not clear how much of Spotify Ludvig “Ludde” Strigeus owns. According to unconfirmed reports in the Swedish media, it’s worth more than a billion Swedish Kroner, making it at least US$100 million.
Ludde, however, does not like the spotlight. “I'm passionate about technology and stuff like that. I like to work in the background. People who want to know, know that I was one of the very key people for Spotify, that's enough for me,” Ludde said in an interview with journalist Kina Zeidler for her book Det Svenska Techundret.