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Pandora names former Microsoft executive Brian McAndrews as CEO

Brian McAndrews, chief executive officer of AQunantive, talks during an interview with Reuters during the Media and Advertising Summit in Ne
Brian McAndrews, chief executive officer of AQunantive, talks during an interview with Reuters during the Media and Advertising Summit in Ne

By Jennifer Saba

(Reuters) - Pandora Media Inc on Wednesday named former Microsoft Corp executive and venture capitalist Brian McAndrews as president, chairman and CEO.

McAndrews, 54, replaces Joe Kennedy who announced in March he was leaving the online streaming music company.

"What brought me here is the opportunity. We mostly want to focus on customers and what they want and innovate for them," McAndrews told Reuters.

Pandora founder Tim Westergren said the company was looking for someone with a background in technology and advertising, the main source of revenue for Pandora.

McAndrews was the president and CEO of the digital advertising company aQuantive that was later acquired by Microsoft for $6 billion in 2007. McAndrews took on the role of senior vice president of Microsoft, a position he held until 2008.

Prior to that he was an executive with ABC in its sports, entertainment and television divisions. He most recently was a managing partner at Madrona Venture Group, a firm that specializes in early stage technology companies. He serves as a director on the board of the New York Times Co.

McAndrews joins Pandora as the company has ballooned in popularity with more than 72 million active listeners who have turned it into the world's largest online radio service.

At the same time, it is trying to grow advertising revenue and tamp down the costs of licensing music since the more people who listen to the service, the more expensive it becomes to legally access millions of songs. The company is involved in a high profile push to get Congress to change how royalties are paid to artists.

It also faces stiff competition from Spotify, Sirius XM Radio and tech giants Google and Apple who are developing their own services and have seemingly bottomless reserves of funds.

The Oakland, California-based company said in August during its quarterly results that the rising cost of acquiring music and the expansion of its sales force would push its 2014 earnings below analyst expectations.

(Adds the word "million" in seventh paragraph)

(Reporting by Jennifer Saba in New York; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer and Stephen Coates)