On Friday, SoundCloud’s existing investors will determine if the company lives or dies. So you might want to back up your catalog.
Updated, Friday AM: SoundCloud’s investors have just approved a $170 million funding round — but the CEO has been replaced. Here are all the details.
And here’s our original story from Thursday:
The walls are caving in on SoundCloud. And its entire future is now hinging upon one vote.
Earlier, Digital Music News reported that the beleaguered streaming service was entertaining rescue investment from two groups. But according to a just-published report, those newer investors need to be approved by a bunch of older investors. And that’s not guaranteed.
The vote to rescue (or not) comes on Friday, August 11th, according to Axios writer Dan Primack. Citing a memo leaked to Axios, Primak notes that the incoming ‘rescue’ investors Raine Group and Temasek would receive preferential treatment. Which basically means that other investors would be de-prioritized, receive worsened terms, and have a harder time recovering their cash.
Ljung has warned that if the rescue package isn’t approved, the company won’t have enough money to survive. It would introduce a dangerous tailspin as employees jumped ship and the money dwindled to zero.
So essentially, a ‘no’ vote terminates the company. Or at least drastically reduces its chances of survival.
Existing investors would face some raw deal terms. In the case of an eventual fire-sale or liquidation, Raine and Temasek would get to recover their funds first, along with any other investors participating in this ‘Series F’. Sounds like a bad deal, except that the alternative is destroying SoundCloud forever.
SoundCloud is asking for an additional $170 million. The Series F sharply plunges SoundCloud’s pre-money valuation to $150 million.
One option for existing investors is to keep the company afloat and accept the bad terms. Then, work like hell to either liquidate or sell the company, a move that Ljung has previously resisted.
Others investors participating in this ‘Series F’ round include Union Square Ventures, Doughty Hanson and Atlantic Technology. So that complicates the analysis and decision matrix a bit.
Existing SoundCloud CEO Alex Ljung is obviously urging investors to vote yes. But here’s the kicker: ReCode has just reported that if the rescue round is approved, Ljung will probably be fired. In fact, a massive leadership shakeup is almost a certainty.
Accordingly, Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor would assume the CEO helm, according to the Recode report. Whether Ljung would fight to remain CEO is another question.
Earlier, we’d heard that investors loved Ljung. But love has a funny way of turning into hate.
Over its multi-year history, SoundCloud has burned through more than $230 million. That doesn’t even include an additional $70 million in loans, undoubtedly accruing massive interest.
Meanwhile, attempts to launch a premium tier have floundered. SoundCloud Go has largely underwhelmed and failed to amass any subscribers. Spotify, meanwhile, has 60 million paying subscribers.
Incidentally, Spotify apparently passed on a deal to acquire SoundCloud. That could play into the current decision, especially the analysis of whether SoundCloud is actually sellable or not.