Spotify CEO Daniel Ek addressed employees about the Joe Rogan controversy in a 15-minute speech yesterday, of which The Verge obtained audio, defending the company’s choice to work with Rogan, explaining its reasoning, and defining why he believes Spotify is a combination of a platform and a publisher. Employees had been skeptically awaiting the discussion at the company’s regular town hall meeting for nearly a week: since things had escalated with Joe Rogan, the company’s star exclusive podcaster, employees had been venting inside the corporate messaging system and awaiting a response from leadership about why it chose The Joe Rogan Experience over Neil Young, setting off a domino effect of other musicians and podcasters pulling content off the service.
Joining Ek in-person at the company’s new Los Angeles headquarters, dubbed “Pod City,” were: Dustee Jenkins, Spotify’s head of global communications and public relations; Dawn Ostroff, chief content and advertising business officer; Gustav Söderström, chief R&D officer; and Paul Vogel, CFO.
The event had been a long time coming, given the amount of conversation happening internally. Employees shared last week in an ongoing thread that their friends and family came to them with questions about why Spotify supported a podcaster who continued to spread COVID misinformation and bring on controversial guests, while the broader backlash made them feel embarrassed to work at the company, according to two sources.