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Pandora Names Roger Lynch as New CEO/President

Pandora announced today that Roger Lynch, formerly CEO of Sling TV, will join the company as CEO and president, and a member of its board of directors, effective September 18, 2017. Naveen Chopra, who has served as Pandora’s interim CEO since June 2017, will continue in his role as chief financial officer. In addition, Pandora announced it has also appointed current Snap Inc. chairman and former Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton to its board of directors.

Pandora’s current chairman, Roger Faxon, on behalf of the Pandora board, stated “After a thorough and thoughtful search process, we are thrilled to have Roger join us as CEO and a member of our board.  Roger brings a stellar leadership reputation, a wealth of consumer experience, and a lifelong passion for music to Pandora – all of which are critical ingredients in the continued evolution of our company.  We are absolutely confident that Roger is the right leader for Pandora who can create value for shareholders by marrying Pandora’s numerous assets with the opportunities ahead.”

Lynch was formerly founding CEO of Sling TV. Prior to that role, he held posts at Dish Network and EchoStar, Video Networks International Ltd., and Chello Broadband. Prior to that, Lynch was a technology investment banker with Morgan Stanley in New York, Silicon Valley, and London. He began his career as a member of the physics technical staff at Hughes Aircraft Company.

“I cannot imagine a more important and exciting time to join Pandora,” said Lynch. “With a massive, diverse and highly engaged audience, a market-leading digital advertising business, a best-in-class product portfolio and an extremely passionate and talented group of people, Pandora is well-positioned to capture an even greater market opportunity.”

“We are also truly excited to welcome Michael Lynton to the Pandora Board,” said Tim Leiweke, who led the search committee on behalf of Pandora’s board of directors. “Michael is a seasoned executive with strong business acumen and a long track record of leading public companies. He brings critical skills to our Board and will lend valuable counsel as we focus on driving meaningful, long-term value for our shareholders and capturing an increasing share of the music listening audience.”

The moves come at a transitional time for the company: Cofounder Tim Westergren stepped down as CEO late in June, shortly after SiriusXM acquired a 19% stake in the company and three seats on Pandora’s board. The was a digital radio pioneer but has lost ground — and many millions of dollars — in recent years in its attempts to become a full-service streaming company as it lost listeners to services like Spotify and Apple Music. The company recently got a boost in the form of a $480 million investment from SiriusXM announced earlier in June and $200 million from the sale of its Ticketfly business to Eventbrite; the latter venture, an attempt to integrate ticket purchases with its streaming service, was an awkward fit that saw the company offloading the acquisition at a big loss after its October 2015 purchase for $335.3 million (not $450 million, as widely reported).

Westergren’s departure does not seem unrelated to the Sirius deal. He cofounded the company in 2000 and served as CEO from 2002 until 2004 but then became chief strategy officer; a series of executives succeeded him most recently Brian McAndrews, who Westergren replaced as CEO in March 2016.

The company generated $5 billion in revenue and $746 million in net income in 2016, although it also lost $132 million in the most recent quarter. The company had 31.6 million subscribers at the end of Q1 of 2017, and expects to add 1.3 million paying subscribers in 2017.

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