The second stop on Inc.'s Fast Growth Tour is in San Francisco on Thursday, and I couldn't be more excited about my one-on-one with Pandora co-founder Tim Westergren, an entrepreneur I have wanted to interview for years.
Pandora was a pioneer in the online music field. It launched in 2000, years before the iPhone was introduced and during an era when digital music often was either pirated or distributed illegally.
Pandora stood out for a few reasons: One was that it found a solid business model. Another was that it let listeners hear the music they wanted (like a jukebox) but also introduced them to new music similar to what they already enjoy (like terrestrial radio).
Earlier this year, SiriusXM finalized its $3.5 billion acquisition of Pandora. The massive payout doesn't mean that the company's path was always smooth. On the contrary, as an Inc. profile put it in 2007: "Pandora has been around in one form or another since 1999 and has spent most of its existence on the brink of shutting down."
Especially vexing for Pandora (as well as many other music streaming services) were questions about how much to compensate artists. But the company persevered, and became the dominant player in internet radio for years, until Spotify and Apple Music came to market.
Westergren joined Khosla Ventures last year, and one of the topics I look forward to discussing with him is how his experience with Pandora informs the choices he makes as a venture capitalist.