Thursday, June 29, 2017

Pandora Interim CEO: Out To Nail 'Passive Listening'

Naveen Chopra
Just one day after being handed the title of interim CEO, chief financial officer Naveen Chopra's debut as the face of streaming music operator Pandora Media Inc. (P) was little short of a hit.

According to TheStreet, shares of the company, which had tumbled 35% this year before Wednesday, June 28, were up 5.7% to $8.97 in early afternoon trading.

Chopra, who was hired at Pandora in February, was named interim CEO on Tuesday, taking over for co-founder Tim Westergren, whose 15 months atop the company were clouded by concerns that it had lost focus on its core business of advertising-supported internet radio as it sought to build an on-demand streaming service.

"Our strategy is to nail the passive listening experience and make sure we have on-demand as an option but not lose sight of our strength," Chopra said at a media conference hosted by Bernstein Research. "The winners and losers in the music streaming space will be really be determined by who can build the most compelling consumer product."

For Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (SIRI) , the satellite radio operator which agreed on June 9 to invest $480 million in exchange for a 19% stake in Pandora, that product is its free, ad-supported radio platform accessed by 80 million listeners per month.

Greg Maffei, who is both chairman of Sirius and CEO of its parent, Liberty Media Corp., often chided Pandora's management for its decision to spend millions of dollars to launch Pandora Premium, the company's on-demand streaming service that debuted in March, when that business is already dominated by Spotify Ltd., Apple Inc.'s  Apple Music. Inc.'s Prime service and YouTube, a unit of Alphabet Inc.

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