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In a Leaked Recording, Amazon's Audible CEO Dishes on Rivalry with Spotify's New Audiobook Business. 'It's Hard to Ignore.' "To say that that is not something that we should be paying close attention to would be business irresponsibility."

By Eugene Kim

Key Takeaways

  • Amazon's Audible CEO Bob Carrigan said "it's hard to ignore" Spotify in the audiobook space.
  • Spotify launched a new audiobook service for premium subscribers late last year.
  • Audible laid off 5% of its workforce in early January.
NurPhoto/Getty Images via Business Insider
Spotify is making changes to its Ambassador Ads program, starting in October.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Spotify looms large in the mind of Amazon's Audible CEO after the music streaming app made a giant leap into the growing audiobook space.

During an internal all-hands meeting earlier this week, an employee asked Audible CEO Bob Carrigan why Audible was spending so much time "in fear of our competition" these days, when it should be paying more attention to the customers, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by Business Insider.

Carrigan said "it's hard to ignore what Spotify's doing," in reference to the music streaming app's recent launch of free audiobooks for premium subscribers.

He said Spotify is taking a "classic tech company freemium approach" in the audiobook space, which makes him be "a little extra aware" of them. Though he repeated Amazon's famous motto to "be customer focused, competitor aware," Carrigan said Spotify's move into Audible's core market creates a completely different dynamic.

"A year ago we didn't have a subscription based, fully included competitor that has hundreds of millions of customers," Carrigan said. "To say that that is not something that we should be paying close attention to would be business irresponsibility."

Carrigan's response was part of a tense internal all-hands meeting that came just two weeks after Audible laid off 5% of its workforce. The employee questions covered everything from the layoffs and low morale to the impact of artificial intelligence on their jobs, as BI previously reported.

"A bit unprecedented"

During the meeting, Carrigan claimed Audible hasn't had major price increases even while significantly boosting the value of its offerings. That puts Audible in a good position to go after both light listeners and hardcore audiobook customers, he said. But Spotify's move into the space is still "a bit unprecedented," given the company's sheer size and scale, he added.

Carrigan also said that he still spends 90% of his day thinking about Audible's customers and creators. Great companies, he said, are mindful of both customers and competitors.

In an email to BI, Audible's spokesperson confirmed the meeting and the broader discussion points.

"Earlier this week we gathered as a company at our quarterly global meeting. As a part of that discussion, we talked about the difficult moment that role eliminations create for all employees," the spokesperson said in a statement. "We also discussed how we are customer obsessed and competitor aware, reinforcing that Audible remains well-positioned for future growth and continued innovation."

Eugene Kim

Business Insider Reporter

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