Is There Something Rotten in Sweden? Spoxit continues as Obamas Ankle Spotify

One of the sure signs of a bubble is when those invested in the bubble narrative deny the obvious. Southern California real estate is replete with examples. Another sign is when there are too many people invested in the narrative. The British corporate raider and financier Sir James Goldsmith was asked why he got into all cash the summer before the 1987 stock market crash. The apocryphal story is that it was because he got a stock tip from his barber. Facts, dear readers, facts are stubborn things.

One such fact surfaced this week–the Obamas are exiting their exclusive podcast deal with Spotify according to Yahoo News (citing Bloomberg). Now let us accept as a given that the Obamas as a brand are still one of the strongest personal brands in the world–in a brand shoot out with fellow podcasters on the Big Stream it ain’t even close. Meghan and Harry? Please.

But get a load of the reasons given. First there’s this one:

The former first couple’s media production company, Higher Ground, will split with Spotify after the streaming giant declined to make an offer to renew their deal, Bloomberg reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with negotiations.

Huh? “Declined to make an offer”? The thing about talent is that it doesn’t come around twice. If you were lucky enough to get into business with real stars, you hang on for dear life. Granted that statement sounds a bit like press release BS to keep the Obamas from looking greedy, but it’s not greedy to want the next deal point–it’s just creativity and smart business to keep that talent feeling ike the best place in the universe to work on that creativity is in your house.

High Ground’s departure follows a number of disagreements with Spotify, such as how frequently the Obamas would feature in output, and over exclusivity of shows, including the former president’s podcast with Bruce Springsteen, according to Bloomberg.

Say what? How often do the Obamas “feature in output”? As many times as they want. If you’ll pay $100 million for Joe Rogan (or whatever the 9 figure number actually is), you will understand that the deal is basically about freedom, like this:

The first show under the Obamas’ Spotify deal, “The Michelle Obama Podcast,” was among the platform’s most popular podcasts during its exclusive run, though Spotify later made it available on rival podcast apps. Barack Obama also hosted his own Spotify show called “Renegades: Born in the USA,” alongside musician Bruce Springsteen.

So let’s get this straight–the Spot will pay big bucks for Rogan and the naming rights to the Barcelona football club and their Camp Nou stadium, but turn around and be cheap and petty with Barack and Michelle Obama.

Right.

As I told the UK Competition and Markets Authority, do not mistake muscle for genius. Spoxit is on the move.

Is Spotify Stock Quietly Tanking?

Analyst Mark Hake has developed three different scenarios for where Spotify’s stock price will be in 2021:  $125.68, $61.42 and $38.39.  He assigns a $114.89 price based on a probability analysis.  About where it is at the close today, in other words.  His post in Seeking Alpha (“Spotify Has A Valuation Problem”) is a must read if you’re interested in financial analysis.

As analyst BNK Invest noted after the close last Friday (9/20):

In trading on Friday, shares of Spotify Technology SA (Symbol: SPOT) entered into oversold territory, hitting an RSI reading of 26.8, after changing hands as low as $120.63 per share. By comparison, the current RSI reading of the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) is 56.4. A bullish investor could look at SPOT’s 26.8 RSI reading today as a sign that the recent heavy selling is in the process of exhausting itself, and begin to look for entry point opportunities on the buy side.

This chart is from today’s trading and it reveals a couple interesting patterns–they may mean nothing, but then again they might.  It’s not so much that Spotify is now trading about $20 below its self-assigned private company valuation of $135.  That’s not a comfortable feeling as it says that investors would have been $20 a share better off if the company had never had its controversial direct public offering (or “DPO”) and just stayed private.

Spot 9-24
Trading on 9/24/19 only\

What’s interesting about this chart is not so much the price but rather the volume.  Spotify is a very thinly traded stock that typically has relatively low volume.  When you see larger volume around the opening and the close of trading it may indicate certain motivations of sellers.  Particularly if there are holders of large blocks of shares that want to slip out of their position when nobody is (a) noticing or (b) can do much about it.

Because of the nature of the DPO, Spotify doesn’t have the typical underwriting syndicate that helps to keep the price somewhat stable to allow the stock to establish a trading range with support levels.  Instead of the underwriters selling to the public, Spotify insiders are selling their shares to the public, which then of course can be resold.  In an underwritten public offering, insider shares are usually subject to a “lock up” period where insiders cannot sell their shares for a period of time, say 90 to 180 days after the first public offering.

Spotify had no lock up on insiders.  So who has an incentive to sell their shares relatively quickly?

It’s hard to know who is doing the selling unless you’re a transfer agent with access to the master shareholder list, and they probably wouldn’t disclose that information for anyone under certain thresholds.  But it is odd and it’s been similar patterns for a week or so.

Spot 5 days 924