Pandora CEO Tim Westergren reportedly stepping down soon

The month of June is near its end, and so may be Tim Westergren’s tenure as CEO of Pandora Media.

According to Recode, Westergren will soon step down for the second time from the top job at the Oakland-based internet radio company. Westergren, one of Pandora’s co-founders, has been the company’s CEO since March 2016, and also served as chief executive more than a decade a ago.

Westergren will reportedly remain with Pandora in some capacity if he gives up his CEO seat. Prior to taking over from former CEO Brian McAndrews last year, Westergren had been Pandora’s chief strategy officer, and is considered to be the philosophical leader of the company as he helped create the Music Genome Project, an algorithm that Pandora used as the basis for its music-streaming service.

Pandora hasn’t commented on the matter, but there has been speculation for months that Westergren could be on the way out as CEO. The company spent most of 2016 and 2017 as the subject of reports that it was shopping itself around, and some large Pandora institutional investors actively called on Pandora to explore a sale. Pandora was also late to the game in introducing a true, on-demand and ad-free subscription streaming service, and finally launched its $10-a-month Pandora Premium offering in March of this year.

By then, Spotify was already touting it had 50 million paying subscribers every month, while Apple Music claimed 20 million subscribers a month for its on-demand service.

A different Pandora started taking shape earlier this month, when it sold a 19 percent stake of itself to satellite radio company Sirius XM for $480 million. As part of that deal, Sirius will get to put three new members on Pandora’s board of directors, including the company’s next board chairman.

After the Sirius investment became public, some analysts who cover Pandora said that Westergren’s days as CEO could be numbered, if for no other reason than when deals like this occur, whoever is cutting the investment check usually wants to push its influence upon the company it is buying into.

Pandora hasn’t given its investors much to be pleased about lately. Since the start of 2017, Pandora’s shares have fallen more than 35 percent, to around $8.43 Monday.

“Pandora’s mistakes are simply too large to ignore and ultimately the mistakes point to one person, founder and current CEO, Tim Westergren,” said BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield, in a recent report in which he laid out evidence suggesting Sirius, and its own parent company, Liberty Media, may look to replace Westergren as Pandora’s CEO.

Photo: Pandora’s logo seen at the New York Stock Exchange. There are new reports coming out saying that Pandora Chief Executive Tim Westergren may soon step down from his job. (Richard Drew/AP)


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