Gustav Söderström has worked at Spotify for a long time; his first big project was leading the launch of its mobile app back in 2009. That makes him the perfect company leader to talk to about Spotify’s recent redesign, which introduces a visual, TikTok-like feed for discovering new content on the app’s homepage. As his boss, CEO Daniel Ek, put it last week, it’s “the biggest change Spotify has undergone since we introduced mobile.”
With the title of co-president and chief product and technology officer, Söderström is responsible for not only how Spotify looks and feels but also all of the AI work happening behind the scenes to power its increasingly important recommendations. According to Söderström, it turns out that improving those recommendations is actually at the heart of the big redesign. “I think companies that don’t have an efficient user interface for a machine learning world are not going to be able to leverage machine learning,” he told me on the newest episode of Decoder.
We spoke last week at Spotify’s Los Angeles headquarters during its Stream On event, a “State of the Union”-type presentation where new tools for podcasters, distribution deals with the likes of NPR and Patreon, and stats like Spotify now having more than 500 million monthly listeners were announced. As someone who shares Decoder’s love of org charts, Söderström talked in-depth about the reason for Spotify’s recent company restructuring that saw him elevated to the role of co-president alongside Alex Norström, who manages the business side of things. (Paid subscribers to my Command Line newsletter got an exclusive preview of our conversation last week. The next edition drops this Thursday.)