Tim Westergren is out at Pandora. A day after news of his imminent departure began to surface, the streaming music company’s co-founder has officially decided to step down as CEO, a position he returned to in May of last year. Pandora confirmed the changes, and added that Westergren would also be removed from the firm’s board of directors, effective immediately.
Pandora’s chief financial officer Naveen Chopra will step in as interim CEO while the board begins its already-initiated search for a new top official. The company also announced the departures of two other high level executives: chief marketing officer Nick Bartle, who joined in September 2016, and president Mike Herring, who has been with the company since February 2013. Filling a recently vacated seat on the board will be Jason Hirschhorn, the CEO of digital content company the ReDEF Group.
Westergren co-founded Pandora in 2000 and served as CEO/president from 2002 until 2014, before returning in May of last year as CEO (replacing Brian McAndrews). During his brief return as CEO, Westergren negotiated the direct licensing deals necessary to launch Pandora’s on-demand streaming tier, though it has continued to struggle with profitability. The service lost money in each of the last nine quarters, and the prospect of a sell-off has lingered. This month, the service received a $480 million strategic cash investment from SiriusXM, and it sold its ticketing arm Ticketfly to Eventbrite for $200 million, giving the company close to $900 million in cash on hand.
In a statement, board member Roger Faxon called the recent transactions part of a strategy to “refocus and reinforce Pandora,” adding that changing listening behaviors among consumers — namely the shift from terrestrial to dynamic options — “continues to present a massive opportunity, and that Pandora is in an ideal position to capture an increasing share of this audience.”
“We rebuilt Pandora’s relationships with the music industry; launched a fantastic Premium on-demand service, and brought a host of tech innovations to our advertising business,” said Westergren in a statement. “With these in place, plus a strengthened balance sheet, I believe Pandora is perfectly poised for its next chapter.”
Chopra, the interim CEO, arrived at Pandora earlier this year from TiVo, where he served as CFO. He left TiVo after the company’s acquisition by Rovi.