Pandora CEO Tim Westergren to step down

Media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho.

A day after news of his imminent departure began to surface, the streaming music company's co-founder has officially made a decision to step down as CEO, a position he returned to in May of a year ago.

Licensing costs have been an on-going issue for the service and it has struggled to expand its reach outside of the U.S. Pandora has also felt significant pressure from the rise of on-demand streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music.

Westergren, Pandora's co-founder, succeeded Brian McAndrews as the firm's CEO in March previous year. He was CEO from 2002 to 2004, and retook the top spot in 2016 following the ouster of CEO Brian McAndrews. The deals gave Pandora a cash injection as the company adjusts to the changing landscape in the music industry, where on-demand downloading services like Spotify Ltd are gaining in popularity.

"We expect the new CEO of (Pandora) to come from (Sirius) directly, or from John Malone's extensive rolodex", Needham & Co analyst Laura Martin wrote in a note.

In a statement, Westergren explained how Pandora is ready to take the company to the next level. Westergren, who cofounded Pandora back in 2000, will also no longer serve on Pandora's board of directors.

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Last month, Pandora received a lifeline in the form of a $480 million investment from SiriusXM in exchange for a 19 percent stake in the company.

The shakeup comes as Pandora is finding its footing in a fast-growing music streaming market that has largely left it behind. Ads are played in the free version, but users can pay $5 per month to listen ad-free. Pandora makes most of its money from ads, bringing in almost $1.1 billion in ad revenue past year.

In the meantime, Pandora CFO Naveen Chopra will act as the interim CEO while the board looks for a new chief executive officer.

Pandora also said on Tuesday that President Mike Herring and Chief Marketing Officer Nick Bartle were leaving the company.

Shares of Pandora had rebounded in recent days amid speculation Westergren was planning to step down.

A report that Westergren planned to step down first surfaced Sunday on the tech news side Recode.

  • Douglas Reid