In a reshuffle of Pandora’s executive team, founder Tim Westergren is stepping down as Pandora’s CEO along with other senior executives. This follows a series of missteps that have gotten significant amounts of ink, including from my own pen over the years.
It is important to remember that Tim worked very, very hard to turn his music genome idea into a public company. The core idea behind Pandora, then Savage Beast, was a very cool idea which I was impressed by when he demoed it for me when I worked in Silicon Valley. Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately for Tim he missed the Dot Bomb Boom which probably added a couple years onto his time to market but separated him from the no-idea Socks.com phenomenon. A lesser man might have been deterred by these uncontrollable market headwinds, and believe me, many were.
Tim brought his company to the public markets and wrote some very large checks for the industry as a whole. While we can argue with some of Pandora’s methods and its inconceivably silly lobbying strategy (if you can call it that), the fact is if there had been no Tim Westergren, it’s likely that there would never have been a Pandora and none of the good that has come from that company.
Do not underestimate what a colossal bear it is to do what Tim did. It’s hard to launch a digital music service, it’s hard to deal with our industry as a whole, it’s hard to walk the line of both supporting artists and satisfying investors. It’s hard to make payroll, it’s hard to make rent, it’s hard to deal with the panoply of incomparably untrustworthy jerks surrounding a CEO in a public company.
But then as a great man once said, why does Rice play Texas?
Tim made some mistakes but he did a lot of good, too. If you’re looking for perfection, you’re not going to find it in this life. We should wish him well and remember one thing.
What comes next from Pandora may make the past look like a walk in the park. We shall see.