Pandora has been around in one form or another since 1999 and had spent the majority of it’s existence on the brink of shutting down be it financially or for legal reasons or both. Tim Westergren the founder of Pandora however, had always found a way to rescue Pandora and bring new hope and direction to turn it into the leader in Internet Radio.
To understand the path that Pandora took we have to take a step back to where it all started with ‘The Music Genome Project‘.
The Music Genome Project
The Music Genome Project technology was developed by Will Glaser with musical input from Tim Westergren.
Each individual has a unique relationship with music – no one else has tastes exactly like yours. Pandora is based on the Music Genome Project, the most sophisticated taxonomy of musical information ever collected. It represents over ten years of analysis by a trained team of musicologists, and spans everything from this past Tuesday’s new releases all the way back to the Renaissance and Classical music.
Each song in the Music Genome Project is analysed using up to 450 distinct musical characteristics by a trained music analyst. These attributes capture not only the musical identity of a song, but also the many significant qualities that are relevant to understanding the musical preferences of listeners. The typical music analyst working on the Music Genome Project has a four-year degree in music theory, composition or performance, has passed through a selective screening process and has completed intensive training in the Music Genome’s rigorous and precise methodology.
The Music Genome Project is updated on a continual basis with the latest releases, emerging artists, and an ever-deepening collection of catalogue titles.
By utilising the wealth of musicological information stored in the Music Genome Project, Pandora recognises and responds to each individual’s tastes. The result is a much more personalised radio experience – stations that play music you’ll love – and nothing else.
As you can see from ‘The Music Genome Porject’ Glaser and Westergren had something quite amazing, so one would think that obtaining investment would be easier right? Wrong… Westergen was on the wrong side of the dot com boom and then there was also the GFC, not to mention broadband speeds were only just starting to creep into mainstream society – hell we didn’t even have iPhones then!
Pandora has been to hell and back and then back to hell through an unbelievable number of setbacks, which would even make the most determined entrepreneur call it a day. Westergren has run out of money, forcing him to lay off his entire staff (except those willing to work for free, though they were offered equity within the business). He’s been rejected approximately 350 times by venture capitalists… 350 times he was told no! The belief Tim and his team had in Pandora must have been incredible and defiant. He has faced bankruptcy, dealt with anxious creditors and even sued by numerous employees. Combine all this and add the fact that Pandora was on the cusp of many major deals, all falling through at the last minute time and time again.
Tim’s passion, belief and refusal not to quit kept the Pandora dream alive and eventually made the dream become a reality.
Now Pandora has over 250,000,000 registered users, over 1,000,000 song in their collection, the last 1/4 saw total listener hours grow to 4.80 billion and now has a market value over $4.5 Billion.
350 reasons not to give up!