Pandora CEO quits, media bigwig Jason Hirschhorn joins board – CNET

Jason Hirschhorn speaks on stage at TheWrap's Grill conference

Jason Hirschhorn, an influential media-industry exec, is joining Pandora’s board. 

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Pandora has put its leadership on shuffle. 

Co-founder Tim Westergren has stepped down as CEO as will two other longtime executives, Pandora said Tuesday in a statement and in a letter to shareholders. At the same time, the streaming music company is adding a big name to its board of directors: media-world honcho Jason Hirschhorn. 


Tim Westergren is stepping down a second time as CEO of the company he co-founded.


Hirschhorn is best known in media circles as the CEO of ReDef Group, a company he founded by expanding his influential media-news curation newsletter, MediaRedef. He sold his startup to MTV in 2000 and went on to become MTV’s chief digital officer, followed by stints at MySpace and Sling Media. 

The shakeup comes as Pandora keeps trying to find its footing in a fast-growing music streaming market that has largely left it behind. The company and its digital version of radio were vanguards of music streaming before smartphones became ubiquitous. In the last five years, Pandora ceded momentum to faster-growing rivals like Spotify and Apple Music, which stuck more modern deals with labels that let listeners hear nearly any song they want, as often as they want. 

On Tuesday, Pandora said Westergren is stepping down from both his role of CEO and board member. His exit as CEO was expected, though it was believed he’d stay on until a replacement was found.

The company’s financial chief, Naveen Chopra, will become interim CEO as the company seeks a permanent successor. Also departing are two longtime executives: Mike Herring, president and former chief financial officer, and Nick Bartle, chief marketing officer. 

Hirschhorn is joining the board to fill a vacant seat.

The company supports “Tim’s desire to identify a new CEO for Pandora’s next stage,” board member Tim Leiweke said in a statement. 

After founding Pandora in 2000, Westergren stepped in for a second round as Pandora’s chief last year, helping the company to broker fresh deals with music labels and launch a subscription service like Spotify’s and Apple’s. 

Those moves, as well as an agreement last month to sell a 19 percent stake in Pandora to SiriusXM for a $480 million infusion, are aimed at helping the company better compete with the upstart music streamers that have overtaken it. 

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