Pandora CEO Tim Westergren departs

NEW YORK (AP) — The co-founder and CEO of Pandora, under intensifying pressure from Spotify and Apple Music, has relinquished his position and will step down from the company board as well.

Westergren, who helped found the company 17 years ago, returned as CEO about 15 months ago with Pandora struggling to match the subscribers heading to rival services. He had also been CEO between 2002 and 2004.

On his return just over a year ago, the company revamped its $5 a month internet radio service, giving listeners the ability to skip and replay more songs. It also launched a new $10 a month on-demand music service which lets users select the songs they want to hear, similar to what Spotify and Apple Music has offered.

But it may have been too little too late. Pandora had 4.7 million paying subscribers at the end of March, while Spotify claims more than 50 million. Pandora makes most of its money from ads, bringing in nearly $1.1 billion in ad revenue last year.

Chief Financial Officer Naveen Chopra will serve as interim CEO as it looks for a permanent replacement, Pandora said Tuesday. The company, based in Oakland, California, also said that Michael Herring has stepped down and that former MySpace and MTV Networks executive Jason Hirschhorn is joining Pandora’s board.

Westergren still holds 1.6 million shares in Pandora, less than 1 percent of total outstanding shares.

Shares of Pandora Media Inc., which are already down 35 percent since the beginning of the year, slipped about 1 percent to $8.40 in morning trading.

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