Spotify has marked its path clearly towards an IPO, even if the likely date has shifted from 2017 to 2018. But there is always the possibility that Spotify could ultimately be sold rather than go public, with Facebook and Google occasionally mentioned as potential buyers.
Midia Research’s Mark Mulligan thinks this speculation may be geographically misplaced. “Cast your gaze eastwards,” he wrote in a blog post, “and suddenly a whole crop of potential suitors comes into focus”.
He names four in China alone: Tencent, Alibaba, Dalian Wanda and Baidu. For Tencent: “A Spotify acquisition, especially an expensive one, would be both a major statement of intent and an immediate entry point into the west,” claims Mulligan.
“Spotify would be a less obvious fit for Alibaba but could be a platform for building reach and presence in the west… Dalian Wanda’s strong US presence and long experience in that market, along with its bold global vision make its fit at least as good as Tencent’s… Spotify could help Baidu to both counter the domestic threat of Apple Music and to build out to the west.”
Mulligan, like us, thinks that an IPO remains the most likely exit for Spotify, but his point is that at least there are options if going public doesn’t work out.