Official: Pandora CEO Tim Westergren is out as President and CMO also exit

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We knew there was a shake-up coming at Pandora. We didn’t know it would be this significant.

As previously rumored, the troubled streaming platform’s CEO, Tim Westergren, is leaving the company.

A search for his replacement has begun immediately, while CFO Naveen Chopra will become CEO in the interim.

Westergren is joined through the exit door by Pandora’s President (and former CFO) Mike Herring, in addition to CMO Nick Bartle, who only joined the company nine months ago.

The departure of this executive trio means that Pandora has lost no less than six senior-level executives over the past 18 months.

Westergren’s predecessor as CEO, Brian McAndrews, left the company in March last year.

He was followed out the door by COO Sara Clemens in December.

And then in March this year, we learned that Pandora’s boss in Australia and New Zealand, Jane Huxley, was also leaving. (Reports this week suggest that Pandora is about to axe its Australasian operation for good.)

A new broom for the business, then – which has also today announced that Jason Hirschhorn is joining its board to fill a recently vacated seat.

Hirschhorn is the Chief Executive Officer of the ReDEF Group, a digital content curation company that he founded in 2013.

Previous to his current position, Hirschhorn served as the Chief Product Officer and Co-President of Myspace, Inc. and as President of Sling Media, Inc.

“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.”

Roger Faxon

Roger Faxon, Pandora board member 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.

“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.

“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.”

Earlier this month, SiriusXM invested $480m in Pandora. As a result of the deal, Sirius picked up a 19% stake in Pandora, plus three seats on its board – including the Chairmanship.

Pandora also sold live music startup Ticketfly to Eventbrite for $200m.

According to SEC documents, Pandora’s total active user count in the 30 days to end of March this year stood at 76.7m. Compared to the previous year, that figure has shrunk by 2.7m people.

Pandora board member Tim Leiweke said, “On behalf of the entire board, I would like to thank Tim for his vision and his many years of leadership that have created one of the most recognized brands in streaming music today.

“Tim stepped in to be CEO at a critical time for the company and was quickly able to reset relations with the major labels, launch our on-demand service, reconstitute the management team and refortify our balance sheet by securing an investment from Sirius XM. We support Tim’s desire to identify a new CEO for Pandora’s next stage.”

Westergren said, “I am incredibly proud of the company we have built. 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.

“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.”

Pandora posted a net loss of $343m in 2016, on annual revenues of $1.39bn.

Added Leiweke: “We are also thrilled to welcome Jason Hirschhorn to the board. Jason is a uniquely talented individual who brings highly relevant consumer media experience to our board and will lend valuable counsel as we focus on driving long-term value for our shareholders.

“With this new addition to the board, as well as our recently announced partnership with Sirius XM and our sale of Ticketfly, we have added significant intellectual and capital resources to Pandora, and we are confident that the company is in a better position than ever to capture an increasing share of the music listening audience.”Music Business Worldwide

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