March 29, 2020
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Pandora CEO Tim Westergren to leave company

Headphones are seen in front of a logo of online music streaming service Spotify.

Struggling music streaming service Pandora is shaking up its leadership team.

The company announced last week that chief executive and co-founder Tim Westergren will step down from his position and his seat on the board. The company named chief financial officer Naveen Chopra as interim CEO as it searches for a Westergren’s successor, Pandora said in a news release.

According to the Verge, the decision to step down was Westergren’s.

“I am incredibly proud of the company we have built,” Westergren said in the news release. “We invented a whole new way of enjoying and discovering music and in doing so, forever changed the listening experience for millions.”

In the release, Pandora said resident Mike Herring and chief marketing officer Nick Bartle also are departing the company.

Recode reported over the weekend that Pandora might make changes at the top, as the service faces increased competition with other streaming services in recent years and struggled to adapt to the changing climate of the music industry.

Westergren was one of three co-founders of the Oakland, California-based company, which started in 1999 after Westergren spent nearly 20 years working as a record producer and composer. He led Pandora as CEO from 2002 to 2004 and returned to that role in 2016. In 2010, Time magazine named him one of its 100 most influential people in the world.

In its announcement Pandora did not say whether Westergren would continue to have a role in the company.

Pandora’s board has spent the last few weeks trying to determine the company’s future, and it appears that includes a new leadership direction.

“Over the past several weeks, the board has taken a number of steps to refocus and reinforce Pandora,” board member Roger Faxon said in the statement Tuesday. “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.”

Pandora also said that it had named ReDEF Group chief executive Jason Hirschhorn to its board to fill a vacant seat.

After its launch in 2000, Pandora entered the public market in 2011 as an innovative radio service that allowed users to listen to radio stations designated to feature a certain band, genre or era. After surpassing 200 million users in April 2013, the company has struggled in recent years to compete with rivals like Apple Music or Spotify. Companies such as Amazon and Google are also investing billions of dollars into music services. (Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos also owns The Washington Post.)

On June 9, Pandora announced that it had sold a 19 percent stake of the company to satellite radio provider Sirius and that it had also sold Ticketfly, the concert-ticketing business that helped set it apart from competitors, to Eventbrite for $200 million. Both moves were aimed at injecting cash into the business to help it cope with a constantly changing music industry.

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