The axe has dropped at Pandora, claiming three top executives and the Internet radio group’s Australasian operations, TIO can confirm.
In a dramatic changing of the guard, the company has released its founder, CEO and the face of its brand, Tim Westergren, with CFO Naveen Chopra filling the void on a temporary basis while Jason Hirschhorn will assume Westergren’s place on the board of directors. Also gone: Pandora president Mike Herring and chief marketing officer Nick Bartle.
The job cuts spill out into the Australasian business, which TIO understands will be shut down from Friday with Thomas Heymann, the local company’s head of artist and music Industry relations, among those affected.
Until now, Australia and New Zealand were the only international territories where Pandora operated. Its Sydney premises were the company’s largest international office with staffers working in sales, rev ops, creative services, HR and marketing, according to Billboard. A smaller office in Melbourne housed sales and revenue operations and an office in Auckland gathered sales and revenue staff.
A spokesperson for Pandora issued a brief statement to TIO, “After diligent analysis, we have decided to discontinue our operations in Australia and New Zealand and expect to wind down the service for listeners over the next few weeks. While our experience in these markets reinforces the broader global opportunity long-term, in the short-term we must remain laser-focused on the expansion of our core business in the United States.”
It’s unclear just how many jobs will be lost, though AdNews suggests around 60 people worked in the Australian division.
The U.S. company’s decision to bail on its business Down Under follows the announcement in March that Jane Huxley, managing director of Pandora Australia and NZ, would leave the affiliate she launched back in 2012. At of her departure, Pandora said its ANZ listener base had grown to more than 5 million registered users, or roughly one million new listeners for each year of operation.
Pandora has some 76.7 million global users, according to reports, but the company has been losing steam to Spotify, Apple Music and myriad of streaming entertainment platforms.
On the shakeup of its senior leadership team and his own ouster, Westergren said, “I am incredibly proud of the company we have built. We invented a whole new way of enjoying and discovering music and in doing so, forever changed the listening experience for millions. I came back to the CEO role last year to drive transformation across the business. We accomplished far more than we anticipated. We rebuilt Pandora’s relationships with the music industry; launched a fantastic Premium on-demand service, and brought a host of tech innovations to our advertising business. With these in place, plus a strengthened balance sheet, I believe Pandora is perfectly poised for its next chapter.”