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Pandora CEO Joe Kennedy resigns after 10 years

The Pandora Media Inc. website is displayed on a computer monitor in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, June 14, 2011. (David Paul Morris/BLOOMBERG)

Pandora chief executive Joe Kennedy announced he would step down from his position during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call. Shares rose nearly 20 percent on the news.

Kennedy said he will remain at Pandora’s helm — and as its chairman and president — until his successor is named, ending his 10-year run as the online radio company’s top executive.

“I love this business, which I helped create,” Kennedy said in an earnings call with analysts. “But as I approach the end of my tenth year, my head is telling me its time to find a recharging station.”

Under Kennedy’s leadership, the company has grown to take an 8 percent share of the total U.S. radio market, but has failed to regain the $20 per share price that it saw when it began trading publicly in June 2011.

The company did beat analyst expectations, but reported a net loss of 9 cents per share on $427.1 million in revenue. Mobile revenue growth grew 111 percent over the same period last year, outpacing a 70 percent listener hour growth through mobile devices.

Kennedy added that he feels Pandora has turned a corner, particularly with its mobile monetization, and that it simply felt like the right time to pass on the company to someone who can “take it to the next level.”

Pandora has been under fire from some of its most active users for imposing a 40-hour limit on free listening on mobile devices — a ban that it had previously imposed and retracted on its desktop site. That ban affects around 4 percent of the company's total users, the company sai. Kennedy said that the limit makes more sense on mobile, where users can pay for subscriptions easily through apps offered on Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play marketplace.

The company said that it’s still unclear how the limit will affect its revenue, but Kennedy did acknowledge that it would be a serious deterrent for some.

There have also been some questions about whether the company will be able to weather competition from Apple, should the tech giant launch a much-rumored streaming version of iTunes and pull Pandora from its iOS platform.

Kennedy dismissed those concerns at an investor conference earlier this week, Billboard reported, saying that it would be “suicide” for Apple to stop support for the service.

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Music piracy on the decline as digital music sales grow

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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