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Pandora CEO Tim Westergren plans to step down

The streaming music giant doesn’t have a replacement for its founder lined up.

Asa Mathat for Vox Media
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Pandora co-founder and CEO Tim Westergren plans to step down as the streaming music company’s leader, according to people familiar with the company’s plans.

Pandora hasn’t selected a replacement for Westergren, sources say; he will likely stay on at the company he founded 17 years ago until a new CEO is in place.

A Pandora rep declined to comment.

Westergren has been running Pandora since 2016; prior to that, the CEO slot had been occupied by a series of professional managers.

Earlier this month, satellite music company Sirius XM said it would invest $480 million in Pandora in exchange for a 19 percent stake and three board seats; that deal has yet to close.

Pandora was an early pioneer in streaming music, and grew its user base to more than 80 million people, most of whom used the free version of its web radio service. But Pandora has struggled to generate enough advertising revenue to cover the cost of the free service.

Meanwhile, music listeners have begun gravitating to the on-demand subscription services of Spotify, Apple and others, which offer ad-free access.

Earlier this year, Pandora rolled out its version of a subscription service. But Sirius appears uninterested in Pandora’s new offering.

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