How Pandora Grew to Get 60 Million Listeners

One of my long-standing beliefs is that when you add connectivity to any device, you open up a new world of opportunities. Whether it’s the dashboard in your car, your television screen or simply your gaming machine, Internet changes everything.

One company that seems to have taken that lesson to heart is Pandora, which after nearly ten years of struggle has hit its stride and is growing at a rapid clip. Today, the company announced it has 60 million users registered to be listeners of the personalized online radio service. Pandora was helped by the popularity of the iPhone, and since then it has become the-music-service-to-embed in various consumer electronics devices.

Thanks to more connected devices, Pandora is growing at a healthy pace. It ended 2009 with 43 million listeners. On April 1, 2010 that number had grown to 50 million. In less than three months, it has added 10 million new listeners. Pandora’s chief technology officer, Tom Conrad once told me that going beyond the web has opened new opportunities for the company — and the numbers seem to back up that statement. Conrad told us that currently the web accounts for 20 percent of total radio listening, which means Pandora needs to expand beyond just the browser if it wants to go after “80 percent of the opportunity.”

Pandora is clearly taking advantage of the growth of internet-connected devices. And what’s more interesting is that smart and forward-looking companies such as Netflix and Skype are thinking along these lines as well.

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