Tom Conrad

CTO and EVP of Product http://www.pandora.com/profile/tconrad

On a personal note…

Back in the early days of Pandora, I was frequently the person who would post to our blog with news about the latest product enhancements and company milestones. Through the years others increasingly filled that role, but I wanted to pop up here one more time to share one last bit of news: after 10 years, I’m in the process of handing over product and technology leadership to others and transitioning to an advisor role.

I just sent the following email to the Pandora team and I wanted to share it with you as well.

Team,

In May of 2004 I met [Pandora founder] Tim for breakfast at a diner in Potrero Hill. I was there to learn about his company Savage Beast and consider the opportunity to join the team of 10 or so he’d assembled. While perhaps I had reservations about the business (music kiosks for book stores!), I knew at once that I wanted to throw my lot in with Tim. Fast forward 10 years and it has truly been the adventure of a lifetime.

The story of Pandora has had many chapters and through most of the twists and turns, I was solely focused on how I could help get the company to the next stage. Rarely did I stop to think about a world where I didn’t make my contribution to the next chapter. I confess though that maybe 18 months ago, I started to think about what I’d need to do to hand over the pen so others could author chapters after my eventual departure.

Then [Pandora’s former CEO] Joe’s decision to leave pushed all of those thoughts to the side. My focus for the last twelve months has been to ensure that the company landed confidently in the hands of an exceptional new leader. We’ve found that leader in  [Pandora’s new CEO] Brian. As I look at the revitalized executive leadership team he has put in place, consider the great leaders on my own team, and contemplate the exciting roadmap we’ve set for the future, I’ve decided that all the pieces are in place to allow me to step aside and let others write the next chapters.

So today we’ve announced that in three months I’ll be transitioning to an adviser role.

We’ve also announced that, effective today, [former Pandora VP of Engineering] Chris Martin has been promoted to Chief Technology Officer and will join the executive leadership team representing our engineering efforts. We are also promoting [former Pandora VP of Technical Operations] Steve Ginsberg to Chief Information Officer today and he and his team will now report to [Pandora CFO] Mike Herring. I’m as proud of all the senior leaders on my team — Chris, Steve, [Pandora VP of Design] Tony and [Pandora VP of Product Management] Mike — as I am about anything I’ve ever accomplished here. These promotions are one reflection of that, and they are richly deserved. If there are successes from the last 10 years you credit to me, they’d almost surely more fairly be credited to Chris, Steve, Tony and Mike.

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Enjoy One-Touch Streaming of Pandora to your TV with Google Chromecast

As Pandora works to fulfill its mission to completely reinvent radio, we are always working on new ways to seamlessly deliver the best personalized radio experience in every possible listening environment.

Today, we’re excited to share that Pandora is now available on Chromecast, Google’s new TV-connected device that wirelessly delivers online audio and video entertainment to the biggest screen in the home.

pandora_chromecast_nowplaying_tvOwners of Chromecast can now wirelessly stream or Cast Pandora directly to the TV, using their smartphone or tablet as the remote control. Core Pandora functionality, such as Play, Pause, Thumb and Skip are all easily controlled via your mobile device for a seamless listening experience. The Pandora experience is delivered directly from the cloud to your TV, so once you send your favorite station to your TV, your mobile device is no longer required to keep the music going. Read More →

Happy Birthday to the Pandora App

Today marks the 5-year anniversary of the iPhone App Store and the launch of our iPhone app. Since our launch on the web in 2005, we have always been keenly aware that, in order to truly redefine radio, we would need to break Pandora free from the PC. That tipping point came on July 10, 2008, when the Pandora app debuted during the iPhone App Store launch. The result was beyond our greatest hopes and expectations: Pandora’s growth virtually doubled overnight. We watched in amazement as millions of people downloaded Pandora onto their iPhones and Pandora was transformed from an at-work, desktop experience into an anytime, anywhere, ubiquitous phenomenon.

Pandora immediately became a must-have app. Even today it continues to be one of the most-downloaded and most-used apps around.

Behind the Pandora mobile app is a team of engineers who maintain and improve the app for a variety of smartphone platforms every day. One of these engineers, Neil Mix, has been with Pandora for more than eight years and helped build our very first smartphone app. Here’s his story about its development: Read More →

Introducing tv.pandora.com

One of the admirable things about traditional radio is that it is truly ubiquitous – from kitchens and bedside tables to automobiles and coffee shops, wherever you go, radio is there. As Pandora works to fulfill its mission to completely reinvent radio, we too must seamlessly deliver Pandora to every possible listening environment.

tv pandora com 3 (2)One particularly important venue is the living room. As consumers embraced flat screen TV’s and home theater speakers, the center of gravity for music in the home shifted from the family stereo to the television. Pandora connected with this trend early and to date more than 10 million listeners have enjoyed Pandora on their internet-connected television.

Today we’re excited to announce the next generation of Pandora for the living room: tv.pandora.com. This is an entirely new experience designed from the ground up for your television and remote control. This new initiative is standards-based and embraces next generation TV, game console, and set top box architectures that support open web standards. Today tv.pandora.com runs perfectly from the browser in your existing XBox 360, and the system will spread to other environments as more vendors bring standards-compliant TV’s and set top boxes to market in the coming months. It’s also a completely new approach which will allow us to evolve the “10 foot” experience of Pandora with greater flexibility and speed than ever before.

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A Personalized Social Experience

I’m excited to announce a new way to share the music you love with our new Facebook integration. On iPhone, Android, and pandora.com, you can now choose to automatically publish your Pandora music activity to Facebook which will populate your musical identity in Facebook’s newly launched music section.

pandora-publish-to-facebookWhile we’ve offered social features that allow you to explicitly share your Pandora stations and music discoveries to Facebook for some time, today’s update makes sharing effortless. This means it’s easier than ever to discover new music from friends’ listening activity in your Facebook News Feed or by checking out the music section on their profile. The new music section on your Facebook profile includes a dedicated radio collection which offers a great place to find inspiration for new stations to listen to.

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New Pandora for All

Today is a big day for Pandora: after more than a year of planning, design, engineering, and beta testing we’re launching an entirely new Pandora website.

In late 2010 we started with a clean sheet of paper, challenging ourselves to create a new internet radio experience that was fast, social, and easy while still being familiar to the tens of millions of people that listen to Pandora each month.

The result is “New Pandora” — the same personalized radio experience you’ve enjoyed for years, wrapped in a new HTML5 look that makes it more responsive, easier to use, and better integrated with the friends and music lovers in your life. We also think it looks more beautiful than ever, but we’re biased.

For the last two months we’ve been gradually rolling a preview of the new site out to our listeners, taking their feedback, fixing bugs and making improvements here and there. With all those little fixes and refinements in place, today we’re rolling out the new site for everyone. Read More →

An update on the new Pandora.com

We’ve been hard at work on the new version of Pandora.com since my last update here — processing your feedback, fixing bugs and generally improving the entire experience.

We’d all like to give a big “thank you” to those of you who have experimented with the new site and taken time to share your thoughts with us. We’re dedicated to making the new site faster, easier, and more social than any version of Pandora that has come before and your feedback is helping to us turn that vision into reality.

Right now, every Pandora One subscriber has the option to use the redesigned web version of Pandora. All you need to do is visit us at http://www.pandora.com, login to your Pandora One account, and look for the invitation to use the new site across the top of the page. Don’t forget to send us your feedback to support@pandora.com. We’d love to hear what you think.

We’ll start rolling out the new site to our ad-supported listeners during the next few weeks. While we’re delighted with the look of the new site, we are even more excited about the new opportunities for listener interaction, music discovery, and easier navigation. As millions more listeners are poised to try out the new Pandora.com soon, we’re looking forward to hearing what you have to say and incorporating your feedback as well.

Thanks for listening,

Tom Conrad
CTO and EVP of Product

Pandora Background Listening for iPhone OS 4

Back in the summer of 2008, Pandora had over 10 million listeners on the web and we were growing at a pretty good clip. Then in July we released Pandora for iPhone and everything changed. Suddenly, people could take Pandora with them: into the gym, the car, the living room, the kitchen, outside while jogging… the list goes on. Pandora truly became an anytime, anywhere phenomenon and as a result the use of Pandora accelerated dramatically. Less than two years later, we have over 50 million listeners and mobile listening accounts for more than 40% of the hours we stream.

In the years that followed, we brought Pandora to more and more environments with the goal of being everywhere our listeners wanted us to be: on Blackberries and Androids, Blu-Rays and TVs.

However, there was still one thing missing for our iPhone users: background listening. That’s all about to change. Read More →

Pandora on iPad

Tomorrow morning as the first iPads are delivered, we’ll be launching an entirely new Pandora application built from the ground up for the iPad.

Pandora on iPad has been completely re-imagined for the iPad’s big touch interface. I think of it as the ultimate lean-in Pandora experience. Just tap the Pandora icon and let the music play while you read about the bands and music you discover. Pass it back and forth with a friend and share your discoveries. My hope is that it can play the same role that the album cover did when I was a kid — something concrete to enjoy and share as the music plays. There’s something magical about that, and this really is a magical device.

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