Tim Westergren, Pandora founder, takes over as CEO

tim westergrenPandora founder Tim Westergren has assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer effective immediately, the company announced this morning. Former CEO Brian McAndrews is leaving the company.

The news comes while still in the first quarter of a year which promises dramatic change for the market-leading Internet radio company. After acquiring Rdio’s technical and talent assets from bankruptcy court last November, Pandora’s executive leadership has foretold the building of an on-demand service to complement the non-interactive radio-style platform which currently serves nearly 80-million users a month.

Three other Pandora executive assume new responsibilities starting today:

  • Mike Herring: formerly CFO, Herring is now President and Chief Financial Officer. Mike Herring shared the earnings-call spotlight with Brian McAndrews during the latter’s term, articulating key product and finance strategies.
  • Sara Clemens: Chief Operating Officer. Clemens was Chief Strategy Officer since 2014, when she took over that role from Tim Westergren.
  • Chris Phillips: Chief Product Officer, as before — Phillips will be responsible for the on-demand product, both engineering and marketing.

“I am incredibly excited about the future of Pandora,” Westergren said in a statement. “We’re on the cusp of realizing an extraordinary vision: fundamentally changing the way listeners discover and enjoy music, and the way artists build and sustain their careers.”

“Tim is the ideal CEO for Pandora as we embark on our next phase of growth,” said Jim Feuille, board chairman. “As the original founder, Tim carries the vision for how Pandora can transform the music industry and he is uniquely able to connect with listeners, music makers and employees.”

Tim Westergren founded Savage Beast Technologies, the predecessor of Pandora, in 2000. Its key asset was the Music Genome Project, which sought to analyze music recordings through a reference map of 400 primal attributes, separate from the broad music taxonomy that has held sway in radio for generations. The technology was licensed to streaming radio platforms and other third parties, before Westergren’s company turned direct to consumers with its own listening service powered by the Music Genome. The company name changed to Pandora Media in 2004.

By any measure, Pandora is the largest single non-interactive music streamer, accounting for over 50% of label royalties collected in the U.S. by SoundExchange.

“We are pursuing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a massive, vibrant music marketplace,” Westergren observed. “We have the audience, the technology infrastructure, the monetization engine and most importantly the right team with the passion and commitment to do it. I’m 100 percent committed to Pandora’s growth strategy, as is our executive team and Board.”


Brad Hill