Pandora: We have no plans to sell

Pandora boss Tim Westergren used his keynote interview at Midem over the weekend to slap down suggestions that the digital service is on the block.

Speaking to Glassnote founder Daniel Glass on stage in Cannes, Westergren made it clear that Pandora was neither looking to sell up or merge with another company.

His comments came after rumours in the US began to swirl that Pandora would be acquired by – or potentially be absorbed into – Sirius XM.

Pandora’s biggest shareholder, Corvex Management, demanded that Westergren and his board consider a sale in an open letter last month.

The investment firm suggested that Pandora was “pursuing a costly and uncertain business plan, without a thorough evaluation of all shareholder value-maximizing alternatives”.

Corvex raised concerns that recent comments from Westergren “suggest an unwillingness to consider a sale regardless of the price offered to shareholders or the cost and uncertainty inherent in a standalone business plan”.

“We are on a path to do something big and something for the long term… so no plans [for a sale].”

Tim Westergren, PAndora

The Pandora CEO’s response at Midem was short and to the point, when Glass asked him if his business was looking to be bought.

“We are on a path to do something big and something for the long term, and that’s why I got back in the saddle – so no plans for [a sale],” he said.

Westergren, the founder of Pandora, became CEO of the company earlier this year following the departure of Brian McAndrews.

Before he left, McAndrews was in charge of Pandora’s efforts to strike new licensing deals with rights-holders to enable it to launch a global on-demand streaming service.

To do so, it will use the bones of Rdio’s platform, which Pandora acquired out of bankruptcy last year.

“We’ve been focused for ten years on this lean-back radio experience, and that’s been our maniacal focus, and building a business around it,” Westergren told Glass at Midem.

“But we realised there’s an opportunity for us to take this audience and do something more with them.”

Highlighting what he sees as the difference between Pandora and Spotify/Apple Music, Westergren continued: “We’re uniquely situated to do that, and not in the way everybody else is — which is 30 million songs and a search box and good f*cking luck.’

“That’s not our approach; our approach is going to be to take what we know about you to make it intuitive and personalised… I think it will [offer something] to the industry in a way that nobody else can – so we bought Rdio to do it.”

Like Rdio, Pandora’s on-demand service will experiment with mid-level pricing, intimated Westergren – bringing people limited features for a lower monthly price.

“Hopefully [we’ll launch] multiple tiers – not just $10 per month but something lower as well,” said Westergren.

“I think the big challenge is there’s a small segment of the population that will pay the $120 per year, but we think there’s a much bigger audience that will pay maybe something less for mid-level features.”

You can watch Glass’s full interview with Westergren below.

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