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Sofar Sounds: Charting the next stage of growth

By Julian Birkinshaw, David Mather, Bryan Stroube, Aharon Cohen Mohliver


This case traces the development of a live entertainment company, Sofar Sounds, from a conversation among three friends about their frustrations with live music events, through early success and now to a point where the CEO, Rafe Offer, has to make important decisions about its future growth. Sofar Sounds’ business model is to organize small sized music gigs with unknown artists, trying to recapture the ‘old days’ of the intimacy and atmosphere of small venue music shows. It progressed from being a “hobby” in 2009, with occasional gigs in London and New York, to a venture-capital backed venture in 2016 with two hundred gigs a month across more than twenty countries. The case describes the challenges of rapid growth in today’s digital economy, and it opens up important issues for debate about ‘platform’ business models, growth trajectories, balancing social and financial goals, and building the capabilities needed for long-term growth.

Learning objectives

  1. Understand how a multi-sided platform business model can be established, and how to make sure all the contributors to the platform grow at similar rates.
  2. Provide insight into how and why entrepreneurs succeed when they have a “social” mission rather than just an interest in financial returns.
  3. Identify the transition points in the growth of a start-up, and how its leaders need to respond to ensure the business continues to succeed.
  4. Understand the trade-offs between financial and social objectives, and how to manage them.


Publication Date: January 2020
LBS Case Code: CS-18-014
Subjects: , , , ,
Pages: 16
Format: pdf