Internet-Radio Pioneer Pandora Files for $100 Million IPO

On Bankruptcy's Doorstep Four Years Ago, Company Flourishes With Net-Connected Devices

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) – Streaming music service Pandora filed for an initial public offering with the Securities and Exchanges Commission on Friday, the latest in a host of internet companies looking to tap the public markets for cash.

Pandora is looking to raise $100 million, and follows Demand Media, which went public last month, and professional social network LinkedIn, which registered for an IPO with the SEC.

Pandora CEO Tim Westergren
Pandora CEO Tim Westergren

The company recently started ramping up its advertising business, which accounts for 86% of its total revenue. Ad revenues grew from just over $3 million in 2007 to $50 million in 2009. The company says it booked $77 million in ad revenue in the first nine months of 2010. Overall the company lost $328,000 on $90 million in total revenue, down from an $18.6 million loss during the same 10 months in 2009.

Pandora has managed to narrow its losses significantly over the past year, while significantly expanding the number of devices. It has flirted with profitability before; claiming one profitable quarter in 2009. The 295-employee company's biggest expense is royalties paid to the record labels, which accounted for $45 million in expenses over nine months ended Oct. 31.

Pandora is hoping to grow its revenue both by serving more ads to more listeners, while allowing users to pay $36 a year for higher quality audio and an ad-free experience.

Built on music recommendation technology developed by the Music Genome Project, the 10-year-old company has 80 million registered in the U.S. The Pandora music service was launched in 2005, and four years ago flirted with bankruptcy. But it has flourished as the numbers of internet-connected devices have exploded, where it has become the de-facto music service on hundreds of mobile phones, TVs, set-top boxes, tablets, cars, and, well, a Samsung refrigerator.

In all, Pandora is available on 400 different devices, including Apple's iPhone and iPad, which accelerated new registrations.

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