Reactions to “Spotify’s Failed Squad Goals”


In just a month, over 135,000 people read my article. That’s more than twice as many people who live in the county where I grew up. I am humbled and amazed at the response. Thank you to everyone who read it, shared it, and discussed it.

A Clarification

My article was about Spotify-the-model, not Spotify-the-company. Despite the subheadline “Spotify doesn’t use ‘the Spotify model’”, some people seemed unable to disconnect the two.

I intentionally did not discuss Spotify-the-company beyond Spotify-the-model in my article. That would be airing the company’s dirty laundry publicly, which I refuse to do. I will only say that few of my former Spotify coworkers who have experience working at other successful tech companies would describe Spotify’s actual way of working as ideal or desirable, but it is improving.

I will let Spotify speak for itself in describing how it actually works. I think Spotify has not shared its current way of working publicly because it’s still figuring it out and the methods that are working are refreshingly unoriginal. There is no opportunity for Spotify to be a thoughtleader on process again, but there is an opportunity for Spotify to set the record straight.

About the cover

I received 3 comments from people who disliked the cover image. They all seemed to miss the reference to Taylor Swift’s excellent Bad Blood music video about squad goals. They also seemed to not read the explaination at the end of the article.

Some people hated the editorial design

I believe in the value editorial design brings to the principal content. This was my first attempt to bring magazine-style layouts to the Web using modern CSS layout features. Some people did not like it. Some people did. I welcome constructive criticism. It’s ok if you don’t like it. I create for myself and not everything has to be for you.

Other Spotify employees react

(Translation: “I worked there for 6 years and I can confirm that the dude is damn right”)

People shared how “The Spotify Model” failed them too.

In one of my prior roles they were running the full Spotify model when I joined. I pushed us to kill for it two of the reasons in this article. 1) I am not a fan of matrix management. It makes ownership unclear and makes manager-employee relationships difficult. It’s hard to have meaningful conversations when your manager really isn’t focused on your actual work. 2) the assumed collaboration/coordination capability. Coordination and collaboration are hard - one of the reasons I’m a huge supporter of the Technical Program Manager role. These folks provided the dedicated ownership of cross team activities to make sure stuff gets done - so it isn’t left to good intentions.

—Asanka Jayasuriya, CTO at SailPoint April 20, 2020

People noted the harm the idea had done to the industry

Longer responses

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