Episode 19: Changing the Way People Listen To Music, with Tim Westergren, Founder of Pandora

Pandora Founder and former-CEO, Tim Westergren, joins Founder Real Talk to reminisce on how his experiences playing in a band prepared him for running a company. From the first moment of product-market fit, to the right partnership that doubled growth rates, Tim shares the ups and downs of his 18-year journey with the company.

Tim started the popular personalized radio service in 2000 with the Music Genome Project. In addition to Pandora, he is an award-winning composer and accomplished musician with 20 years of experience in the music industry – spanning production, audio engineering, film scoring and live performance. Presently, he works extensively with technology partners, distribution partners, advertisers and investors to help shape the future of Pandora and personalized radio.

Highlights from the episode:
1:57 How did being in a band prepare you for starting and running a company?
3:02 How did you motivate the team in a challenging fundraising environment?
5:40 How did you find conviction in the product before it was proven in the market?
8:39 How did you switch business models?
11:44 How did you deal with skeptics and disbelievers inside the company?
14:13 How did you deal with the regulatory challenges of creating a new technology?
17:28 How did you leverage the power of a grassroots community to grow the business?
19:20 What led you to the decision of bringing on an outside CEO? What characteristics do you look for?
21:46 How did you make the decision to support a new platform as a method of growth?
24:25 How did you manage the internal morale after a high fluctuation IPO?
26:21 How did you think about competition and what would you have done differently?
28:36 What is your favorite book or piece of content that you recommend to founders?
30:32 What’s one thing you believe that most others don’t?
30:51 What’s your favorite channel or favorite song to seed a channel on Pandora?

If you have any questions you’d like us to ask our guests, or founders you’d like to hear on this podcast, feel free to email us at founderrealtalk@ggvc.com. If you like what you hear, please rate and review us on the Apple podcast app to help others find this podcast.

GGV Capital is a global venture capital firm that invests in local founders. As a multi-stage, sector-focused firm, GGV focuses on seed-to-growth stage investments across Consumer/New Retail, Social/Digital & Internet, Enterprise/Cloud and Frontier Tech sectors. The firm was founded in 2000 and manages $6.2 billion in capital across 13 funds. Past and present portfolio companies include Affirm, Airbnb, Alibaba, Bitsight, ByteDance (Toutiao), Ctrip, Didi Chuxing, Grab, Gladly, Hello Chuxing, HashiCorp, Houzz, Keep, LingoChamp, Namely, Niu, Nozomi Networks, Opendoor, Peloton, Poshmark, Slack, Square, Wish, Xauto, Xiaohongshu, Yellow, YY, Zhaoyou and more. The firm has offices in Beijing, San Francisco, Shanghai and Silicon Valley. Learn more at ggvc.com, @GGVCapital or GGVCapital on WeChat.