Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Tim Westergren steps down as Pandora CEO | UNLIMITED | CMU


Pandora CEO Tim Westergren yesterday confirmed rumours that he was about to step down from the top role at the US streaming company. By stepping down. He is also resigning his board position at the digital music firm.

Westergren’s departure is part of a not insignificant executive overhaul at Pandora, following the news earlier this month that Sirius XM had bought nearly a fifth of the business. As well as Westergren, President Mike Herring and Chief Marketing Officer Nick Bartle are also leaving the company.

Stepping in to Westergren’s role as CEO will be CFO Naveen Chopra – who joined Pandora in February this year – but only on an interim basis while a full-time replacement is found. Meanwhile in the boardroom, former Myspace and MTV exec Jason Hirschhorn is taking a seat around the table.

Westergren co-founded Pandora in 2000, and over the years held various executive positions at the firm including that of CEO. He returned to the CEO position last year following the departure of Brian McAndrew. That development was not welcomed by all of Pandora’s shareholders at the time, some of whom questioned his strategy for taking the company into profit, and his willingness to seek a new buyer, a move some investors were promoting.

“I am incredibly proud of the company we have built”, said Westergren in a statement yesterday. “We invented a whole new way of enjoying and discovering music and in doing so, forever changed the listening experience for millions. I came back to the CEO role last year to drive transformation across the business. We accomplished far more than we anticipated”.

He continued: “We rebuilt Pandora’s relationships with the music industry; launched a fantastic premium on-demand service, and brought a host of tech innovations to our advertising business. With these in place, plus a strengthened balance sheet, I believe Pandora is perfectly poised for its next chapter”.

Since launching a strategic review, Pandora has sold a 19% stake in the company to SiriusXM and also sold off its ticketing company, Ticketfly. With almost $700 million in the bank as a result of those deals, Pandora has bought more time for itself, but shareholders are obviously keen to see the loss-making business finally become properly profitable.

Commenting on the executive changes, former EMI boss Roger Faxon, who sits on the Pandora board, said: “Over the past several weeks, the board has taken a number of steps to refocus and reinforce Pandora. As listeners continue to move from traditional terrestrial radio to more dynamic and flexible offerings, it is the board’s belief that this transition continues to present a massive opportunity, and that Pandora is in an ideal position to capture an increasing share of this audience”.

Also noting the recent expansion of Pandora’s premium services, alongside its core ad-funded personalised radio set-up, he went on: “With ‘digital radio’ at the core of our business, and both ‘Plus’ and ‘Premium’ as new, integral parts of our arsenal, Pandora now has all of the tools necessary to capitalise on this opportunity. With our comprehensive suite of offerings and a refortified balance sheet, we will be able to more effectively recruit listeners, and we will be able to provide them with more of the content they want and the services they desire in order to better retain them”.

Presumably Faxon et al, and the shareholders they represent, hope that a new management team can take all these lovely opportunities and the big pile of cash created by the Sirius and Ticketfly deals, and get on with building that nice profitable business on the back of it all. Yeah, good luck with that everybody!


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