Pandora Media

Location: Oakland, CA

Founded: 2000


Tim Westergren is a Stanford grad, composer, record producer, musician, and the founder of Pandora Media. Along with Will Glaser, Westergren conceived of the Music Genome Project in 1999 to “capture the essence of music at the fundamental level,” and evolved that mission to bring Pandora Internet radio to life.

Notable Products

  • Internet radio
  • Mobile radio app
  • Podcasts
  • Music Genome Project


What to Expect

There are a lot of CDs—a lot. Stacks are piled high on shelves, in corners; they surround banks of laptops, pool tables, drum kits, and desks. At Pandora, the music analysts spend 20 to 30 minutes dissecting each track on the disc down to 400 attributes. This is the Music Genome Project, a never-ending quest to identify, categorize, and analyze every song, everywhere. Listeners benefit from the project’s efforts by way of Pandora Internet Radio: expertly matched songs and artists grouped into individualized free stations they create for themselves. In 2010, Westergren announced that the company had turned a profit for the first time since its inception.

Headquartered in Oakland, the company also operates offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. Positions within the organization include sales, software engineering, systems administration, online advertising, marketing, and technical project management, among others. Of course, the music analysts conduct the major mission of Pandora and the Music Genome Project. These jobs do not come easy; analysts must have a college degree in music theory, composition, or performance, and undergo a selective screening process. An education in computer acoustics and recording arts is also useful. If hired, these individuals are put through a rigorous training program to learn the specific methodology and taxonomy of the project. Even those applying for a job as a software engineer should be prepared for a tough grilling about their technical skills and personality. All of Pandora’s hires must prove they are of the highest caliber in their field and have the right attitude to blend in with the larger staff.

Around the office, the vibe and dress is casual. Band T-shirts, jeans, and Chucks are acceptable attire. As you would expect, the otherwise stale walls are covered in tour posters and album covers. The “backstage” area is an all-purpose lounge for meeting, relaxing, and playing a couple of sets with one of many office bands. There are nearly as many instruments lying around as there are pens and paperclips. No doubt, Pandora is a cool shop if you’ve got the undying love of music. 


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