Pandora Radio (NYSE: P) stocks soared Thursday upon news that CEO Joe Kennedy will be stepping down after nearly a decade at the helm. Kennedy, 53, will stay at Pandora until the company finds a suitable replacement.
Thursday’s shocking announcement comes on the heels of better-than-expected quarterly sales as the company rallied the past year on improving finances. The stock was up 20 percent in premarket trading Friday.
"I reached the conclusion and advised the board that the time is right to begin a process to identify my successor," Kennedy said in a statement.
Fourth-quarter ad sales rose 51 percent to $109 million, the company said Thursday as Pandora shares rose 19 percent to $14.75 after the results after trading as high as $14.80. The gain retreated in after-hours trading after Kennedy announced his departure.
“Over the last nine years I have enjoyed an extraordinary partnership with Joe, working with him to grow the company and build an exceptional team,” Tim Westergren, Pandora Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, said in a statement.
Last year, the Harvard and Princeton-educated executive led a campaign to lobby federal lawmakers to change how its music royalties are calculated. The effort led many music organizations, including the RIAA and ASCAP, to ridicule Pandora.
According to Pandora, which claims 67 million monthly active listeners, the internet radio company is the largest radio station in almost every major U.S. market, representing 8% of total U.S. radio listeners.
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