Pandora Media Appoints Sling TV’s Head Roger Lynch as CEO

Pandora Media Inc. hired Sling TV head Roger Lynch as its new chief executive officer, the fourth leader in less than two years charged with reviving the struggling online music company.

The appointment is effective Sept. 18, Oakland, California-based Pandora said Monday in a statement. Lynch has run Sling TV, an online service owned by Dish Network Corp., since its January 2015 inception. Pandora also said Michael Lynton, the former CEO of Sony Entertainment, will join its board.

Source: Pandora

Lynch will try to succeed where his predecessors have failed. Once the largest online music streaming service in the world, the company’s user base has stopped growing as consumers flocked to new on-demand listening alternatives Spotify and Apple Music, both of which offer huge catalogs of songs.

Pandora was late to build a competing service, introducing Pandora Premium earlier this year. In June, the company sold a large minority stake to satellite radio company Sirius XM Holdings Inc. and sold its ticketing business to raise money to cover costs. Sirius is getting three seats on Pandora’s board, including the chairmanship.

Pandora rose as much as 8.4 percent to $8.75 in extended trading after the announcement and was quoted at $8.40. It was little changed at the close in New York and has declined 38 percent this year.

“There weren’t a lot of people being floated as candidates, but it’s surprising they’d take someone from pay TV,” said Amy Yong, an analyst at Macquarie Capital USA, who has a neutral rating on the stock. “If they were trying to be standalone for a while, they’d make a statement hire.”

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Co-founder Tim Westergren stepped down in June after a little more than a year in the top job, and was succeeded on an interim basis by Naveen Chopra. With Lynch’s hire, Chopra will return to his position of chief financial officer full-time, the company said.

Lynch has worked at Dish since 2009, most recently overseeing Sling, the largest online TV package in the marketplace. Dish was the first large pay-TV provider to introduce what’s known in the industry as a skinny bundle — online TV services that offer fewer channels at a lower cost than your average cable package.

Rival music services Apple Music and Spotify have funded the creation of original videos, a step Pandora has thus far avoided. The company has had its hands full repairing its relations with record labels and artists. Lynch plays lead guitar in a band called The Merger that is about to play as the Aspen Jazz Festival.

The company has said a main priority will be to increase advertising sales.

“Roger brings a stellar leadership reputation, a wealth of consumer experience, and a lifelong passion for music to Pandora – all of which are critical ingredients in the continued evolution of our company,” Roger Faxon, Pandora’s chairman, said in the statement.