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Former Netflix CFO Barry McCarthy Joins Spotify Board

A guy who helped build a big subscription business joins a company that wants to build a big subscription business.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Spotify, which has a big subscription business it would like to turn into a bigger subscription business, has reached out for some high-level help: The music streaming service has brought on Barry McCarthy, the former CFO of Netflix, to its board of directors.

McCarthy is currently chief operating officer at Clinkle, a payments startup that has generated a lot of press though it has yet to launch. But his immediate value to Spotify will be the decade-plus he spent helping Reed Hastings build up Netflix and set it up for an international expansion.

By the time McCarthy left Netflix in 2010, the company had 17 million subscribers (it now has more than 40 million). Last spring, Spotify announced it had six million paying subscribers, though its executives have been heard bandying a nine million number around at recent industry gatherings.

McCarthy’s resume is also interesting for Spotify because it includes a stint as CFO at Music Choice, the music programming service owned by a consortium of cable and tech companies. And until last summer, McCarthy was on the board of Pandora, the Web radio service that competes with Spotify for users in the U.S.

McCarthy will be the fifth member of Spotify’s board, which was previously composed of co-founders Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon and investors Sean Parker and Klaus Hommels.

So here’s the obvious question: Is Spotify also interested in McCarthy because it has ambitions to get into video one day, too? McCarthy answers that question this way: “I can say that their primary focus, and the reason I’m interested in joining them, is their focus on building the world’s best music service.”

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