Pandora Can and Will Profit Beyond Mobile Advertising

TheStreet.com

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I get the feeling that the relatively inferior among us think great entrepreneurs such as Facebook's FB Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey, Tesla Motors TSLA and PayPal founder Elon Musk and Pandora P founder and Chief Strategy Officer Tim Westergren are idiots.

We dog these guys relentlessly. Examples are endless. From Barrons no-respect and no-clue $15 price target on FB to people telling Jack how to run his ever-exploding businesses to folks claiming Tesla can't possibly have a future to the notion that Pandora is little more than a story of expensive content up against the relatively new mobile advertising space.

First, as I explain in the video that accompanies this article (see Page Two) and in the closing paragraphs, there's so much more to Pandora than this surface-scratch easy "analysis."

It's entrepreneur envy. That's all that fuels these misconceptions and misguided shots.

If any of us accomplish a sliver's worth of what Zuckerberg, Dorsey, Musk and Westergren accomplished in the best 30 seconds of their lives in the 90 or so years we'll live, we've done something. So, stop hating. It might cost you money.

Next month, in conjunction with Media 11:11, we'll debut short- and full-length episodes of TheBeach on TheStreet. These videos will focus primarily on the startups populating Southern California's startup scene in the Santa Monica-Venice corridor, widely known as "Silicon Beach."

We'll be lucky enough to have, in addition to some interesting Silicon Beach startups, Tim Westergren join us in February as we launch the series. Going forward, I hope to have veteran success stories such as Westergren on to talk about the process of -- and the pain and suffering inherent in -- building not merely a company, but an idea, a passion, a vision from the ground up.

That's what Westergren did with the misunderstood Music Genome Project. In just over a decade, he took this sophisticated system that powers music discovery from conception to reality to private then public company. It's been an impressive run. And, if you talk to the guy for more than 12 seconds, you recognize he's not done yet.

Guys like Westergren and the others who populate Pandora management and rank and file do not believe they have even come close to tapping the company's as well as the Music Genome Project's potential.

A couple weeks ago, I promised I would overcome the meme-like objections bears make about Pandora's future viability. And I will.

However, over the weekend, I attended a Social Distortion concert on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. Walking along Sunset Boulevard past the legendary clubs and other relatively unknown venues got me thinking about something I have only briefly written about in the past -- Pandora's potential as a local music promoter and ticket seller.

The Music Genome Project, in conjunction with Pandora's massive user base and treasure trove of thumbs up/thumbs down data, allows the company to target listeners on the basis of factors such as age, location and musical taste. It already uses this powerful capability to sell advertising and drive listeners to free shows. Don't expect it to happen overnight, but, at the same time, don't expect the company to stop where it is now.

Do you really think an entrepreneur like Westergren is so freaking passive as to stake the entire business he built from nothing in a San Francisco apartment on a legislative decision a fickle Congress will ultimately shoot up or down? Again, give him and others like him more credit than that. They deserve it.

Pandora can take different routes, but there's no better place to start than Hollywood -- quite possibly in partial-partnership with Live Nation LYV , which owns and/or operates several major venues; in collaboration with others; by itself; or a mix of two or more of the three -- targeting listeners for shows put on by bands they love or recently discovered on Pandora. Just as you can instantly "Promote a Post" or "Send a Gift" now on Facebook, once day I reckon -- and this is all conjecture on my part -- you'll be able to "Buy a Ticket" to a local indie show at one of your city's best venues.

Los Angeles. San Francisco. New York. Austin. Portland. Seattle. Places to start and build something like this are endless. And Pandora can step into this space, sharing its take with the artist just like it does when it makes royalty payments to Sound Exchange.

All of this said, if you have on-paper profits from Pandora's latest post-rumor and noise, pre-earnings surge, at least take some. Few people understand the bigger picture with this company; as such, it will continue to be a volatile number as the story plays itself out.

--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

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