Once a rising star that brought old-fashioned radio online, Pandora has been losing listeners and money. Its travails have attracted activist investor Corvex Management LP, which has carved out an 8.8 percent stake and is pressuring Westergren to consider other options. While the CEO publicly opposes a sale, several board members are open to the idea or at least giving Corvex seats on the board, according to people familiar with the matter.
Westergren, 51, has preached swift action since taking over as CEO, and asked for patience to execute the company’s plans to enter two new businesses -- concert ticketing and on-demand streaming.
Yet patience is wearing thin in some quarters. Pandora reported a year-over-year drop in listeners in each of the past three quarters, while Spotify added more than 20 million paying customers in less than year. Advertising growth has slowed, and the shares, issued at $16 in June 2011, peaked at $40.44 in March 2014 and are now trading at $11.69.
Pandora, meanwhile, has extended the deadline for shareholders to propose new directors, giving investors like Corvex time to ponder their next moves and spurring speculation among current and former employees that other actions may be afoot. Two directors will be up for re-election at the company’s next shareholder meeting -- Westergren and Tony Vinciquerra, a media executive to Corvex’s liking.