Gustav Söderström, co-president and chief product and technology officer of Spotify, has spoken to The Verge about the company’s recent redesign, which has introduced a TikTok-like feed for discovering new content. Söderström explains that the redesign was done in order to improve Spotify’s artificial intelligence (AI) recommendations. He states that companies that don’t have an efficient user interface for a machine learning world will not be able to leverage machine learning, and Spotify wants to be at the forefront of this space.
Spotify’s increasing focus on recommendations is also tied to its expansion into podcasts. The platform aims to use AI to recommend podcasts to listeners based on their listening habits. The redesign was described by CEO Daniel Ek as the “biggest change Spotify has undergone since we introduced mobile”.
In the interview, Söderström also speaks about the recent company restructuring and layoffs announced by Spotify, which saw him elevated to his current role. He believes that a company’s org chart is always a trade-off, and that there is no org that is good at everything. The aim of the restructuring was to ensure that the org was “good at the important things and kind of suck at the slightly less important things”.
Despite having worked for Spotify for 14 years, Söderström says that he is still interested in the combination of product innovation and business models. He explains how his role has evolved over time, from heading up mobile to becoming a chief product officer and a chief technology officer. Söderström also discusses the business challenge of securing licenses from record labels to enable Spotify’s offline mode, and how the technology innovation behind this feature made it seamless to use.
Lastly, the interview touches on Spotify’s recent Stream On event, at which the company announced new tools for podcasters and its expansion into new territories, including 85 markets in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Europe. The event also saw Spotify announce that it now has over 500 million monthly listeners, making it the biggest audio streaming platform in the world.