Pandora: from the brink to an IPO

Pandora Founder Tim Westergren

This is a great story. Music has a long history with technology and today’s digital age may have brought chaos to a business model created with the technology change for recorded music in the 20th century, but never changed the universal passion we have for it. Enter a new way to experience music, a new business model and a man with a dream in 1999: The Music Genome Project.

Tim Westergren, named one of the Top 100 people who most affect our world in 2010 by Time magazine, has found a way and the path wasn’t easy. In this interview where he gives a history of the company, he talked about people working for free or using their own credit cards in the early days to fund the idea because they believed in it. It’s also important to note from a start up standpoint, they had to try several different models before finding one that worked. They initially started off as a business to business provider, before moving into a direct to consumer relationship and proposition.  But they didn’t give up, even after the dot com bubble burst and there was no money for funding.

Then came the iPhone and a very popular app at just the right time and momentum started to build as the shift from computers to mobiles took place. Earlier this year, they announced plans for an IPO. With over 80 million subscribers who spend an average of 10 hours per month and over $100 million in annual revenues, the bulk from advertising, it’s now a break even business. Unfortunately due to licensing issues, they cannot offer a global service which would greatly add to their growth and the enjoyment of millions more people, but I hope that those barriers continue to fall as well.

Yesterday, they expanded the service to offer 10,000 comedy clips to their archives, using the same popular analysis and recommendation system from music. According to their blog, comedy clips were one of the top requests from listeners.

I hope that this marks the beginning of a new era with music and technology.

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