Brian McAndrews Headshot
Brian McAndrews was just named CEO of Pandora

Brian McAndrews, the former CEO of online advertising juggernaut aQuantive and partner at Seattle venture capital firm Madrona Venture Group, has been named chairman and CEO of online radio service Pandora.

McAndrews led aQuantive for a number of years, culminating in its sale to Microsoft for $6.3 billion in 2007, at the time the largest acquisition in the software giant’s history. Microsoft later wrote-down much of the acquisition after failing to integrate the assets or management team. At the time of the $6.2 billion writedown, considered one of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s many failed maneuvers, the company said that “the acquisition did not accelerate growth to the degree anticipated.”(See: After the writedown: How Microsoft squandered its $6.3B buy of ad giant aQuantive).

McAndrews joined Madrona Venture Group in 2009 as a venture partner, one of the leading venture capital firms in Seattle. He was named to the board of The New York Times last year.

“We are pleased for Brian that he is returning to the public company CEO role he thrives on,” said Matt McIlwain, managing director at Madrona. “He has added tremendous value to many Madrona portfolio companies.  We look forward to continuing our long-term relationship with Brian and being a resource for him and the Pandora team.”

McAndrews is low-key and smart, earning the respect of many of his recruits at aQuantive. He also has a strong grasp of the inner-workings of the online advertising world. That should serve Pandora well, which last month alone reported that listener hours increased 16 percent to 1.35 billion hours. It also claimed 7.46 percent of the U.S. radio listening audience in August, and during the second quarter boasted 71.2 million active users.

Pandora is based in Oakland, and is publicly held with second quarter revenue $157.4 million. Shares of the company are up more than 130 percent this year, and they jumped again today on the news of McAndrews’ appointment. Pandora boasts a market value of $3.77 billion — about on par with Seattle-based Zillow, which went public a month after the online radio station.

For now, here’s the press release that was just issued.

OAKLAND, CA – September 11, 2013 – Pandora (NYSE: P) today announced that the company’s Board of Directors has appointed Brian McAndrews, formerly of Madrona Venture Group, Microsoft and aQuantive, to succeed Joe Kennedy as Chief Executive Officer, President and Chairman, effective immediately.

In its search for a new CEO, the Board sought a candidate who could build on Pandora’s leading position in internet radio and accelerate its fast-growing advertising business.

“We had very specific criteria for our new CEO and we were very strategic about finding the right person — Brian is that person,” said Tim Westergren, Pandora’s founder and chief strategy officer. “No one better understands the intersection of technology and advertising, which he clearly demonstrated during aQuantive’s meteoric rise. He has a recognized ability to set strategy, lead large teams and drive growth and innovation at great scale. He is also a natural cultural fit with Pandora. This is a great development for our company.”

Following senior positions at General Mills and ABC, McAndrews, took over Avenue A, a small digital agency in Seattle in 1999, and as President and CEO built it into aQuantive, the fastest-growing digital marketing company in the world at the time. aQuantive was subsequently acquired by Microsoft for $6 billion in 2007. After serving as a senior vice president at Microsoft and running Microsoft’s Advertiser & Publisher Solutions group, McAndrews joined Madrona as an investing partner in 2009, focusing on early-stage technology companies. In addition to his work at Madrona, McAndrews currently serves on the boards of The New York Times Co., Grubhub Seamless and AppNexus.

McAndrews was recognized as Advertising Age’s first-ever “Digital Executive of the Year” and he was designated one of the 30 most influential executives in the advertising, marketing and media world in Adweek’s 30th Anniversary issue.

“It is a great privilege to be asked to lead Pandora at this important moment in the company’s history,” said McAndrews. “By capturing the enthusiasm of more than 72 million monthly listeners, the management team, led by Joe and Tim, has made Pandora the clear internet radio leader and created a product that consumers love. I look forward to joining this great team to build on Pandora’s success for years to come.”

“It has been an honor and pleasure to work with our management team and employees for the past nine years to reinvent radio and put Pandora on a clear path toward continued long-term growth,” said Mr. Kennedy. “With a proven record of growing businesses and managing complex organizations, Brian is uniquely qualified to lead Pandora to the next level in our business. I’m confident that under his leadership, Pandora will continue to expand its business and deliver tremendous value to listeners, artists and advertisers.”

Today’s announcement concludes a transition process that began when Kennedy announced his decision to retire in March 2013.

“The Board has been working closely with Joe and the management team to ensure we found a leader who could build on our success and take full advantage of the extraordinary opportunities that lie ahead for Pandora,” said Robert Kavner, Pandora’s Lead Independent Director. “On behalf of the entire board, we thank Joe for his tireless leadership. Joe is handing over a company that is strong and well-positioned for long-term growth.”

ABOUT PANDORA

Pandora (NYSE: P) gives people music and comedy they love anytime, anywhere, through connected devices. Personalized stations launch instantly with the input of a single “seed” – a favorite artist, song, or genre. The Music Genome Project®, a deeply detailed hand-built musical taxonomy, powers the personalization of Pandora® internet radio by using musicological “DNA” and constant listener feedback to craft personalized stations from a growing collection of more than one million tracks. Tens of millions of people turn on Pandora every month to hear music they love. www.pandora.com

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