Pandora Media founder stepping down as CEO

Posted June 28, 2017

Pandora co-founder and CEO Tim Westergren plans to step down as the streaming music company's leader, according to people familiar with the company's plans. Pandora, under intensifying pressure from Spotify and Apple Music, said Tuesday that CEO Tim Westergren has stepped down from that role.

Westergren co-founded Pandora in 2000 and served as CEO/president from 2002 until 2014, before returning in May of previous year as CEO (replacing Brian McAndrews).

"I am incredibly proud of the company we have built", Westergren said in the news release.

Chief financial officer Naveen Chopra will take over as interim CEO during the search for a permanent replacement for Westergren, said the Oakland, California-based company. Westergren will also step down from the board of directors, vacating all official positions with the company he founded back in 2000.

Replacing Westergren on the board is Jason Hirschhorn. "Nobody is left from the old regime".

Pandora today announced that founder and CEO Tim Westergren "has chose to step down". Pandora offers two subscriptions: the cheaper Pandora Plus, which augments its radio service and removes ads, and Pandora Premium, its competitor to the on-demand services.

Many investors believe Pandora needs to be part of a larger company to deal with tough competition from Spotify, Apple, Amazon and Tidal, the service backed by Jay-Z. For a company that burned $135 million in cash in 2016 and already went through almost $30 million in the first quarter of 2017, it may force the company to raise more cash in the not too distant future.

Shares of Pandora were last seen up 2% at $8.46, with a consensus analyst price target of $11.67 and a 52-week trading range of $6.76 to $14.98. Pandora ended up paying $198 million in cash for Ticketfly and $136 million in stock.

With these changes, Pandora will have undergone a almost complete overhaul of its management in a little more than a year, and investors and music executives are now waiting to see what influence Sirius XM and its owners, Liberty Media, will have on the remade company.

The moves Westergren made, while necessary, may have come too late.