“Music, you know, true music not just rock ‘n’ roll, chooses you.” -Lester Bangs (as played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) in Almost Famous
We had the privilege of hosting Tim Westergren as part of the LinkedIn Speaker Series, and it was clear music chose Tim at a very early age. How that passion would manifest itself, however, was the real journey.
The list of technology companies that were started before 2000 — right when the tech bubble burst — and are still operating today is very short. The ones that did survive continue to play a significant role in our lives. You probably engage with Google, Apple, and/or Amazon on a daily basis. Pandora, while still culturally ingrained as a scrappy start-up, would also have a clear place on this list.
I think many of us may forget just how important music is to our lives. Aside from the sense of smell, I challenge you to find something that is more tied to memory recollection than music. As an ode to music and Pandora, I can think of no better way to summarize Tim’s discussion than with lyrical references:
“What a long strange trip it’s been” – Truckin by The Grateful Dead
- Tim’s journey from a student at Stanford, to a struggling musician, to a nanny (aka “Manny”) to an entrepreneur is nothing short of amazing.
“Just a man and his will to survive” – Eye of the Tiger by Survivor
- I tried to convince myself that this quote might be a bit too dramatic, but look at the facts. Tim, with Pandora on the brink of financial exhaustion, managed to convince a team of 50 people to work for TWO YEARS UNPAID. That is until he managed to get a second round of funding 348 pitches later. I think this quote fits perfectly.
“We started from the bottom now we’re here” – Started From The Bottom by Drake
- Pandora, like all start-ups, started small. They now have tens of millions of monthly unique visitors and recently surpassed Facebook in total user time spent on a mobile app. Think about that for a second… simply massive.
“We’ve only just begun” – We’ve Only Just Begun by The Carpenters
- Pandora isn’t that big of a company, yet. With Pandora’s user base primarily on mobile they are perfectly positioned for the future. Pandora’s next adventure, to help democratize opportunity to what Tim refers to as “the middle class musician,” may be the biggest thing to come.
What an amazing opportunity to host Tim and hear this story first hand. We look forward to seeing what’s Pandora’s next act, encore and beyond. Check out photos from his talk below.