Thirty-five-year-old Spotify co-founder and CEO Daniel Ek is the tech industry's newest billionaire after the popular music streaming service went public on Tuesday in a massive direct listing, which valued the company at over $26 billion at the close of its first day of trading. Ek's roughly 9 percent stake is worth nearly $2.5 billion.
But Ek is no stranger to making large sums of money at an early age. In fact, the Swedish-born founder became a self-made millionaire at only 23 years old, two years before he'd even launched the first Spotify application.
The enterprising Swede, who taught himself to write code in his early teens, actually started his first business at the age of 14. Riding the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, Ek had a side business designing and hosting websites for companies, often working out of his high school's computer lab or his family's home in the suburbs of Stockholm, according to Forbes.
Ek told Sarah Lacy in a 2013 interview that he started out designing website home pages for friends, but he was soon charging up to $5,000 to local companies, and he eventually made nearly $50,000 in just a month.
The Spotify CEO says even his parents didn't know about his lucrative business until they noticed all of the video games and expensive guitars their son was collecting.
"I don't think there was many 13‑year‑olds that had a 1957 Fender Stratocaster in original condition and things like that, but I did," he told Lacy.
It was also around this time that Ek first began chatting online with future Napster founder and eventual Spotify investor Sean Parker. (Neither actually knew who the other was then — when they finally met in 2009, after Parker sent Ek a gushing email praising Spotify, the tech entrepreneurs realized that they'd spent hours talking under aliases in online chat rooms as teens.)