Musical chairs: Pandora CEO steps down

June 27 Music streaming service Pandora Media Inc said Tim Westergren was stepping down as its chief executive. No immediate replacement was announced and CFO Naveen Chapra will serve as interim CEO. The popular executive, who founded the music streamer 17 years ago, will also be giving up his seat on Pandora's board of directors. To that end, Pandora also said on the day of the Sirius XM investment that it would sell its Ticketfly unit to Eventbrite for $200 million.

Replacing Westergren on the board is Jason Hirschhorn.

While Mr McAndrews was faulted by many employees for a lack of vision and leadership, the company's fortunes haven't improved much under Mr Westergren. "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 capitalize on this opportunity". "We support Tim's desire to identify a new CEO for Pandora's next stage". Now, it is also offering a full on-demand service to directly compete with Spotify and Apple Music. The company has been the subject of takeover speculation for months as the stock has fallen 35% year to date while the S&P 500 has gained 9%.

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What the "next chapter" for Pandora that Westergren mentioned entails is a matter of wide speculation in the music-streaming industry. Grumblings are, however, that Sirius XM has little interest in this service.

The company, which has never turned a profit on an annual basis, faces intensifying competition from services such as Sweden's Spotify, Apple Inc's (AAPL.O) Apple Music and Alphabet's (GOOGL.O) Google Play Music. Since Westergren became CEO on March 28, 2016 through Friday, the stock had declined 11% while the S&P 500 has soared 20%. Liberty Media-owned SiriusXM has also stepped in to make a $480 million strategic cash investment in Pandora. Pandora makes most of its money from the free version, bringing in almost $1.1 billion in ad revenue previous year. Its shares were down 1.5 per cent to US$8.33 at 10am NY time.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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