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Why I’m Betting on Pandora Even if They’re Not Profitable (yet): Persistence, Perseverance, Pivot, Personalization [10 Links]

I love Pandora (@Pandora_Radio). I’m a proud premium member and use the service on just about every device I own. I’ve been a fan of the service since I first learned about it 6 years ago. Their ability to customize and recommend music boarders on magical. I’ve discovered more great new music from Pandora in the last few years than I have from my music snob, hipster friends. Okay, really I don’t have hipster friends because I’m to old. But I do have music snob friends.

But the services ability to recommend great music is only one reason I love the service. I love their focus on Mobile, I love that they were one of the first “Web 2.0″ companies to champion the freemium model. And I love their founders persistence.

While I referred to Pandora as a “Web 2.0″ company, that’s like calling Soundgarden a “grunge” band. Soundgarden started in the mid 80′s, long before grunge, but really hit their stride (partly because they were from Seattle) during the grunge wave. Pandora is actually a dotcom company.  Pandora started in 2000, right before the dotcom bubble burst. And for 11 years Pandora has pivoted (I through that one in for @holdenpage), persevered and continued to succeed and grow. Can you imagine how hard that must have been when it would have been so much easier to quit?

Tim Westergren, the founder and now Chief Strategy Officer of Pandora is one of my new entrepreneur heroes. What Tim did, very few people in the World would have done. He stuck with it and I will bet on someone like that any day of the week. I’m sad I won’t be able to enjoy the service while I’m in the UK but I promise to come back a still loyal user.

This post wasn’t originally going to be a 10 Links post, but there was just so much news out there today it seemed like a shame not to.

1 - GigaOm: Lessons from Pandora’s tough road to IPO

Sometime this week, if all goes well, Pandora will start trading on the NYSE at a rumored $2 billion market cap under the “P” ticker. The “P” could very well stand for “pivot.” Most people nowadays think of Pandora as the personalized streaming radio service or app. But it actually started out as Savage Beast Technologies, which licensed music recommendation technology to retailers like Best Buy.

2 - TechCrunch: The Music Runs Through Our Veins

It’s fitting that all of this activity is bubbling up the year Pandora Radio is set to IPO. Back in 2000, I first heard about the Music Genome Project in Berkeley, which eventually turned into Pandora Media. Over the next decade, Pandora survived a battery of legal disputes and tricky fundraising rounds to eventually emerge as the dominant Internet radio station and become a household name. Pandora also pioneered many of the trends fueling new startups today, many that we may take for granted, such as discovering new music (“serendipity”), listening on the go (“mobility”), and getting information that we like (“personalization”). Every new service that launches today, in all categories, not just music, touts these principles, so we should take a moment and commend Pandora for blazing that trail.

3 - NYTimes: In Pandora’s Valuation, a Few Sour Notes

Pandora Media is distinctly Web 2.0. Its Music Genome Project tailors Internet radio stations to individual tastes. Pandora is using that digital DNA to capitalize on investor demand for hot technology plays, with an initial public offering that could value the company at $1.4 billion. But investors should be going in with their eyes, and not just their ears, wide open. Pandora’s business model is pretty old school.

It might look like a rival to Sirius XM, the satellite radio monopoly. But Pandora’s primary competition is in the analog dashboard of terrestrial radio. Pandora generated almost 90 percent of its $138 million of revenue in the year through Jan. 31 from advertising. Sirius’s coin comes from 20 million paying subscribers.

4 - Mashable: Pandora Boosts Share Price Before IPO

The increase comes after LinkedIn’s IPO on May 19, which showed investors’ appetite for social media stocks. LinkedIn shares opened at $45 that day and closed at $94, a 108% gain for the day, raising about $4 billion. The stock was trading at around $72 on Friday morning. Groupon, meanwhile, has filed to raise $750 million in its IPO.

5 - Mashable: Pandora Media IPO Set for Wednesday

In the first test of investors’ appetite for high-profile IPOs sinceLinkedIn’s successful public offering last month, Pandora is expected to begin trading Wednesday.

Pandora is offering 14.7 million shares for $10 to $12 per share. The company increased the size of its IPO last week by 43%

6 - TechCrunch: First Silicon Valley Consumer Internet Company Joins The Wall Street Single Letter Club

As we reported earlierPandora will start trading tomorrow on the New York Stock Exchange under the single letter symbol “P”. By doing so, it becomes the first Silicon Valley consumer Internet company to join the exclusive one-letter stock ticker symbol club.

7 - Mashable: Pandora Jumps More Than 50% in IPO

Enthusiasm for Internet IPOs appears to remain high as Pandora made its debut on The New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday morning and surged by more than 50% to above $25 per share at the start of trading.

Shares since have settled to around $22 per share (as of 9:40 a.m. ET), valuing the company at $3.6 billion.

8 - GigaOm: Pandora goes public, valued over $3 billion

More than a decade after it was started by Tim Westergren and cohorts, Oakland, Calif. based Pandora Music completed an initial public offering that saw the company raise about $235 million at $16 a share.

9 - TechCrunch: Pandora Opens At $20 Per Share With A Market Cap Of $3.2 Billion

Yesterday, music streaming service Pandora priced its IPO at $16 per share (valuing the company at $2.6 billion). The company originally set the range of its IPO at $7 to $9 per share, at a market cap of $1.3 billion; but upped the range last week to $10 to $12 per share, giving the company a valuation of $1.9 billion. Today, Pandora debuted, under the symbol ‘P’on the New York Stock Exchange, opening at $20 per share (up 25 percent), valuing the company at $3.2 billion. Within minutes of trading, shares reached as high as $25, giving the company a $4 billion valuation.

10 - WSJ: Pandora IPO: Who’s Getting Rich?

As IPOs tend to do, Pandora’s stock debut is making the company’s biggest investors — none exactly household names — a boatload of money.

The company’s six biggest investors are starting at about $2.6 billion in paper and cash money from their stakes in Pandora, which sold its IPO stock yesterday at $16 a share and then this morning has seen shares soar as much as 63% out of the gate before settling back to a still bubble-like 44% stock pop.


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Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.

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