Joe Kennedy, who has been at the helm of Pandora Media for nearly a decade, on Thursday announced he will sign off as the Internet radio company’s chief executive soon as a replacement CEO is named.
“I love this business, which I helped create,” Kennedy told analysts during a conference call to announce Pandora’s fourth quarter financial earnings. “But as I approach the start of my tenth year, my head is telling me to head to a re-charging station sooner rather than later.”
He did not elaborate further on his reasons for stepping down.
Since 2004, Kennedy has overseen a number of tumultuous changes at the pioneering Internet radio company. In its earliest years, Pandora struggled financially to get off the ground and attract enough financing to pay its bills. Then in the late 2000s, Pandora had a near-death experience when music licensing costs threatened to overwhelm the service. Congressional intervention in 2008 staved off Pandora’s execution by lowering the licensing rates it had to pay.
After a rocky initial public offering in 2011, its stock price seesawed wildly between $20 and $7 as investors expressed concern over Pandora’s licensing costs.
Last year, the 53-year-old Harvard and Princeton-educated executive led a campaign to lobby federal lawmakers to change how its music royalties are calculated. The effort led many music organizations, including the RIAA and ASCAP, to pillory Pandora.
“Over the last nine years I have enjoyed an extraordinary partnership with Joe, working with him to grow the company and build an exceptional team,” Tim Westergren, Pandora Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, said in a statement.