A TechCrunch source understands that Spotify rejected a buyout bid from Tencent, the Chinese internet giant behind WeChat, earlier in 2017.
Reportedly, Tencent saw Spotify as an opportunity to expand its streaming music influence beyond China, where it thrives through services like QQ Music and KuGou. The insider doesn’t say whether or not talks got to the point where a price came up.
Neither Spotify nor Tencent is commenting on the apparent leak, to no one’s surprise, so there won’t be any official clarification as to what took place. If talks happened in first place, though, they’re still notable.
Spotify has emerged as the top music streaming service worldwide, with more than 140 million active users and 60 million paying customer. The 11-year-old company is reportedly valued at $13 billion, its primary rival is Apple, which launched its service years later and continues to play catchup. Apple Music reached 27 million paying users this past June.
Also, it’s significant that Spotify might have given up an opportunity for not only some useful financial support (it lost about $568 million in 2016), but a chance to expand into countries it doesn’t yet serve. There’s no guarantee that a Tencent deal would have guaranteed Spotify access to China (Tencent might have just used its existing services), but it might have opened doors to markets that weren’t even on the radar. While we won’t know Spotify’s reasons for turning down the offer without an official explanation, it’s possible that the company decided that its freedom was worth more than a potential market share grab.