By Allan Maurer
ATLANTA – Pandora, the popular make-your-own-stations Internet radio service, plans to launch a $100 million initial public offering of stock, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
Reports say the offering is not expected for at least three months and the amount it plans to raise could change.
Joe Kennedy, president and CEO of Pandora, was a speaker at TechMedia’s 2009 Internet Summit in Raleigh, NC. TechMedia’s next event is the Southeast Venture Conference in Atlanta March 2-3, followed by its first Atlanta-based Digital Summit, May 16-18.
We interviewed Kennedy, who has been CEO of the company since 2005, prior to the 2009 event.
He told us that when innovation strikes in media, winners are those who see the unique possibilities of the new medium, not those trying to replicate existing media.
When it comes to Internet radio, says Kennedy, “Much of it simply took broadcast radio and transferred it to the net. Then we came along giving people the unique capability to personalize it.”
Pandora allows users to enter the name of a song, band, or performer to create his own radio stations themed similarly to them.
“So now, Internet radio is something different than broadcast radio. The challenge for everyone as new capabilities develop is how they can truly change the game rather than extending what came before.”
We’ve used Pandora for several years now and while it does have competitors in the space, it seems to be the best known. We use it even more now that we have a stand-alone Internet radio which includes Pandora (among other services) among its apps.
The digital media space is hot. Successful exits for venture-backed digital and social media firms with a strong user base are piling up. We spoke to Atlanta-based Greg Foster, a founder of BrightWhistle, a digital media specialist on the board of The Onion, another digital media firm in the news lately, and co-founder of online lead generation firm, BrightWhistle, which will present at TechMedia’s Southeast Venture Conference in Atlanta March 2-3. We asked Foster if all this digital media excitement is hype.
“Every market has the potential to be over-hyped,” he says. But he doesn’t think that’s true of the digital media space. “I think there is a simple explanation,” he says. “We’ve been going up this curve since 2006-2007, but the macro economic impact of the last few years had a huge effect. Now we’re taking up where we left off.”
In the intervening years, he notes, some of these companies “Continued to build business to a critical mass.” Now, he adds, there is a convergence of ad dollars flowing to the space, sophisticated targeting with Twitter and Facebook, the ability to use people to influence decisions, online reputation management. “All these things are creating enormous opportunities,” he says.
“The really big news for digital media companies is that the IPO market opened a bit.” That’s borne out by Pandora’s move toward an IPO, which follows the successful IPO of online content producer Demand Media last month, and LinkedIn Corp.’s filing for an IPO last week.
“That’s great news for the early stage market in digital media,” Foster says. “It compels buyers to spend more and drives up valuations. Buyers have to compete with the threat of a company going public. That’s where you want to be.”
That seems to be working already for established players.
AOL bought The Huffington Post for $325 million, Yahoo bought Associated Content, and the secondary market for shares in Twitter and Facebook seem almost over-heated. “We’ll continue to see big acquisitions,” says Foster.
Cool Iris funded
Another popular digital media firm, Cooliris, which has had more than 35 million downloads of its 3D wall, essentially a visual browser, has raised $9.6 million in third round funding from its existing investors.It is also launching a new service, LiveShare 1.2, a way to communicate online or mobile devices via live, shared photo streams.
They include: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, DAG Ventures, The Westly Group, and Deutsche Telekom’s T-Venture. It previously raised more than $20 million.
“With over 35 million downloads of our iconic Cooliris 3D Wall, we’ve established a good beachhead in media browsing, and now with our newest release of LiveShare we are transforming the group media sharing experience,” commented Soujanya Bhumkar, CEO and co-founder said.
Cooliris is a quick, fun way to see the latest videos and hottest photos and trending stories on the web, but we don’t use it as much as we do many other services. Its Gallery app for the Android mobile operating system and other visual browsing and sharing platforms may increase its popularity, though.
LiveShare is now available free on iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone 7, as well as at www.liveshare.com.
Email TJS Editor Allan Maurer: Allan at TechJournal South dot com.