Pandora is meeting with potential buyers after its stock plummeted 60 percent since October, according to a report in the New York Times.
The streaming music company had a market value of about $1.8 billion before the news broke today. Its stock quickly rose about 15 percent after the story broke, before being briefly halted by regulators. It’s now trading up about 10 percent. Update: Pandora stock ended the day 8.5 percent up, but stock dropped about 5 percent in after-hours trading when it released earnings; more below.
According to the sources in the New York Times story, Pandora is talking with potential buyers with the help of Morgan Stanley, but nothing is set in stone. It’s not clear who the potential buyer may be, but Pandora recently acquired Rdio’s assets, so it now has the assets to create a full-fledged music streaming service to compete more directly with Spotify and Apple Music.
Pandora still maintains the largest number of streaming media listeners in the industry, but growth has slowed with the rise of Spotify and others, which allow users to play songs at will as opposed to Pandora’s curated radio-style streaming.
While Pandora’s stock isn’t looking like it’ll reach its two-year-old $7 billion peak anytime soon, investors got some good news when the company finally got a definite answer about their streaming rates. While the rate it has to pay every time a song is streamed increased 20 percent, it wasn’t as much as the music industry wanted and was seen as a win for the streaming music company.
Pandora is the only company that focuses on streaming media that is also publically traded. In the past, CEO Brian McAndrews (who used to run Seattle-based aQuantive) has complained that private companies like Spotify have burned through capital to compete without concern for profit. Even players like Amazon and Apple rely on money made from other ventures to support their streaming services.
Update: Pandora released earnings after the market closed today, slightly missing analyst estimates with $336 million in revenue. The listener count is up about 4 percent since the last quarter, but about 400,000 people short of where it was a year ago. However, time spent listening is up 3 percent from last year to 5.37 billion hours during Q4.