New York, New York, February 2020
Anghami, the first and largest legal music streaming platform and distribution company operating in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), said it will list on the Nasdaq NDAQ +4.9% – making it the first Arab tech company with a U.S. public listing. The platform, which is regarded as a Spotify competitor in its speciality service regions, has more than 70 million registered users and partnerships with Universal Music Group, Sony Music, and Warner Music Group.
Through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), Anghami will merge publicly with Vistas Media Acquisition Company Inc., a blank check company that raised $100 million in a 2020 IPO. Expected to close in Q2, 2021, the transaction values Anghami at approximately $220 million. The deal includes a $40 million financial commitment – $30 million from UAE finance firm Shuaa Capital who led a funding round for Anghami last year, and $10 million from the parent company of the SPAC.
“Elie and I co-founded the company in 2012 with a vision for Anghami to be a first of its kind, digital media entertainment technology platform in the MENA region,” says Eddy Maroun, CEO of Anghami. Launched in 2011 before iTunes was available in Lebanon, where Anghami started, the music tech company and distribution arm created a healthy ecosystem for legal music streaming amid high levels of streaming piracy. In 2017, New York-based, Bengali rapper and entrepreneur, Anik Kahn’s “Habibi” single was hitting streaming numbers the U.S. has never seen on Anghami, opening his brand up to new fans through its editorial and platform support in the MENA regions.
In 2018, Spotify launched in its 78th market, Middle East and North Africa (MENA), in attempts to serve a new regional audience bucket. With heavy foundations in MENA, and a “hometown” advantage – Anghami offers up access to a library of music that Spotify and Apple Music cannot necessarily service, clear, or identify. A company based in the region it serves is able to authentically program content for its audience similarly to Savvn, India’s largest music streaming platform, who entered the conversation after a leading Bollywood film soundtrack for Taal, was removed from Spotify. The album is once again available on Spotify after the demand for “The Greatest Bollywood Soundtrack of All Time” became apparent via social media.
Breaking into a U.S. market – music or otherwise will be a challenge, however if marketed strategically with niche content to boot, Anghami could create value for music connoisseurs who want more options than are currently available in North America. Anghami’s international partnerships are led by Wassim “Sal” Slaiby, CEO of XO Records, the label he co-founded with The Weeknd, and who has been an asset to the company’s global growth strategy.
Anghami has grown revenues 80% over the last three years and is expected to increase five-fold by 2024.
“Being a U.S. listed public company gives us access to growth capital and a global platform that is the best in the world,” says Maroun.
I am interested in culture and how it moves people. My coverage sweet spot is the intersection of music and technology, however, I also write about entertainment,