Uptonian Thoughts

Q&A With Pandora.com Founder Tim Westergren

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I just returned from an amazing Q&A; session with Pandora.com founder Tim Westergren. Over the course of an hour and half, Tim told the history of his company and what they are doing today, and answered numerous questions from the audience. The questions varied greatly, from dealing with Pandora’s business model to querying about the technical backend of the Music Genome Project.

The most interesting questions came from people who wanted to know about new features and the future of the service with respect to the end user. The two greatest features that were discussed were a notification system for when bands tour in your area, and feedback to the user on his or her stored tastes, both from listening habits and the thumbs up / thumbs down ratings that the user has given. Pandora already has a band-on-tour monitor, so I’m sure it will not be too hard to move that to a location-based tool. The more exciting feature, in my opinion, is the user feedback from the system itself.

To have feedback on the type of user that Pandora thinks you are, and, more importantly, the ability to tweak this opinion (I’m thinking adjustable sliders of certain prominent music genes, with respect to the interface) would be amazing. Not only would you get to specify bands and songs that you enjoy, but you would be able to easily tell Pandora what exactly it is about that band or song that you like.

In any case, it was a great presentation from Tim, and I gained a lot of insight to what it takes to see a startup company through good times and rough times.

One last thing: Tim mentioned to us that there will be a feature overhaul coming in about two weeks’ time. Be sure to look out for that!