Jon Åslund is software developer at Spotify, husband, and father.
Hi Jon. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t use Spotify nowadays. What is it like to work there?
I love my job! I was there 2006 when it started, in a team of 8, which quickly grew. Back then, not many in Sweden had used a music streaming service, but it was obvious to us that it would be successful if we could pull it off. There were some services out there already that worked like Spotify, but available only in the US, and not very good. When we finally launched in Sweden in October 2008 it was an instant hit. Spotify became pretty big. It’s fun to work in a place that develops a product that everybody loves.
Could you possible tell us where did the idea come from?
Our two founders, Daniel and Martin had just recently become friends and wanted to work on something together. Daniel is a talented musician and both love tech and music. Apparently it was Martin’s birthday and they wanted to listen some good music, and it turned out to be quite the hassle to both find, pay, download and play music. They realized that they could build a much better experience.
Was it the first work experience for you, or did you quit a ‘normal job’ towards living a dream and working on a startup?
Before that I had done some random work here and there, but mainly worked at a travel agency, building the website and the backend systems as well as being a sysadmin. The company was small at first but after being acquired by a larger business, twice, it became too big, too bureaucratic and there was very little love for our technology stack. It was no longer an enjoyable workplace. Luckily for me Spotify came around. It was a totally different environment. At Spotify, we did not want to turn into a slow mega corporate entity, and in my opinion we have succeeded. Even though we have more than 1500 employees now in offices around the world, the company still has that startup drive force. And everyone cares about the product.
In the beginning it was work all the time, even weekends, but it was ok. We had so much fun. Now it’s much more relaxed. Everything is better organized so that we don’t have to work extra hours anymore. We learned how to be better at releasing, cutting things out, instead of squeezing things in.
How do you lead a healthy life yourself and what would be your tips’n’tricks?
I am going to the gym twice a week to keep myself fit. I guess walking my dog helps. Just thinking about what I eat helps. I feel bad, when I think back on all those pizzas and sodas. There is a very unhealthy connection between startups and pizza. Trying to work less, as in normal hours, and putting my family first makes me very happy. I have a son at home who is only a few weeks old. His name is Bruce.
Like Bruce Lee?
Ha ha, exactly.
I also keep my eye out for new technologies that helps me understand myself and live better. I follow the Quantified Self blog and I am a member of Quantified Self Stockholm. It is not a big group, but it is fun to meet other people thinking about how to improve themselves and measure it. The only thing I quantify is my weight though, because it requires nothing more than standing on the scale. I’ve been trying to use a calorie counter app to better grasp what I am eating, but it is a lot of work to input everything manually. Everything needs to be much more effortless. This is the reason I learned about drinkable meals like Ambronite.
Great! How do you like it? Does Ambronite fit your life nowadays?
I was always interested in optimizing my time. I want to spend more time on things I like, and less time on things I dislike. With cooking, you always spend more time on preparing food than actually eating it, and you need to eat, every day. Ambronite solves this problem. It gives me plenty of time for doing the things I enjoy. I also love the setup and design. It comes with a nice green shaker in a tiny portion size bag, that doesn’t take much space, has long shelf life, and you only need water to prepare it. Furthermore it tastes good and the filling effect lasts longer. It feels healthy. We should totally have this in our cafeteria at work, next to the scary sodas.