Spotify tried to reinvent the IPO. But two quarters later, things look ... normal?

By Theodore Schleifer

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

We were promised phenomenal volatility. Instead, we got boring stock growth.

That’s the story of Spotify as it prepares to report its earnings on Thursday for only its second time as a public company. More than 100 days after Spotify tried to revolutionize how private startups go public with its not-so-normal direct listing, the company’s performance looks, well, pretty much normal.

That normalcy is surprising — Spotify and its bankers expected that the music streaming giant would take shareholders on a wild ride in its first months as a public company.

“The public price of our ordinary shares may be more volatile than in an underwritten initial public offering and could, upon listing on the NYSE, decline significantly and rapidly,” Spotify wrote in the documents it filed before its initial public offering this spring.

Not so!

Shares have climbed about 40% since Spotify began trading in early April. No big peaks. No big valleys.

Spotify was able to cut out much of the traditional role that Wall Street played in the IPO — a success story that should empower Silicon Valley startups to similarly stiff the big banks if they feel so inclined. With a “direct listing,” Spotify essentially posted available shares on the New York Stock Exchange and let the market figure out a fair price, rather than selling a certain number of shares to Wall Street kingpins before the rest of us could buy them.

Naysayers — and there were many — were predicting Spotify shares would spike and nosedive out of the gate. That hasn’t happened. That’s good news for any other billion-dollar startups who want to loosen Wall Street’s grip on them — but were scared of whether they’d suffer for their gumption.