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Pandora CEO Brian McAndews Exits, Founder Tim Westergren Named Chief Exec

Brian McAndrews is leaving as Pandora’s chairman, president and CEO after two and a half years, and the music-streaming company named founder Tim Westergren to the chief exec job.

Pandora stock dropped more than 10% Monday on news of the management shakeup.

“We have put in place a robust strategy to make Pandora the go-to source for fans and artists and position the company for long-term success in a highly dynamic space,” McAndrews said in a statement provided by Pandora.

Westergren founded what eventually became Pandora in 2000, and has served on its board since the company’s inception. He was previously CEO and president from May 2002 to July 2004, and chief strategy officer from July 2004 to February 2014.

With McAndrews’ departure, Pandora said independent director Jim Feuille now serves as chairman.

Pandora has been gearing up to launch a music-subscription service later in 2016, after acquiring Rdio, to compete with services like Spotify and Apple Music. That would expand from Pandora’s roots as a free, radio-station-style service that streams dynamic song playlists based on artist, genre or other criteria.

“We believe the board preferred a product visionary like CEO Westergren with strong ties to sales, the product and (Pandora’s) audience to lead the company over the next several years,” Cowen & Co. analyst John Blackledge wrote in a research note. The exec also “has relationships with labels, and we believe the change signals to the labels that CEO Westergren will be leading the company and will be part of discussions around content licensing for the emerging subscription biz.”

“We are pursuing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a massive, vibrant music marketplace,” Westergren said in a statement. “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% committed to Pandora’s growth strategy, as is our executive team and board.”

Added Feuille, “Tim is the ideal CEO for Pandora as we embark on our next phase of growth. 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.”

Along with the CEO change, Pandora also announced that CFO Mike Herring will add president to his title, overseeing Pandora’s revenue, music licensing, finance, legal and information technology.

In addition, Sara Clemens, formerly chief strategy officer, is now COO focusing on growing and scaling the business and operating new ventures. Her responsibilities include music makers, the Ticketfly ticketing and live-events unit, international, human resources and corporate development.

Chris Phillips, Pandora’s chief product officer, is now responsible for product, engineering and marketing.

McAndrews, prior to joining Pandora in September 2013, was a partner with Madrona Venture Group. Before that he had worked at Microsoft and was CEO of aQuantive, a digital marketing services and technology company Microsoft acquired in 2007.

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