Monday, June 06, 2011

Pandora -- An IPO Box Worth Opening?

Pandora -- the music service I love and use most. Set it, forget it. Sure it has its limitations (skimpy catalog), but its ease of use is legend. And, now I listen to it during my runs and workouts on my iPhone. Love that. So much so that I am a paying subscriber at something like $36/year ... one of the few paying subscribers.

And, there's the rub. Pandora continues to lose money ... lots of it ($7 million in the past year). But, why worry? These are good times, right? So, Pandora will soon go public in an IPO that expects to value the company at $1.4 billion (that's right, BILLION) on $51 million in revenues.

What justifies the music service's high notes? It certainly ain't in the economics of the business itself -- I have previously questioned Pandora's long-term business model. But, who needs a long-term viable business model as a stand-alone company when Pandora now boasts 34 million registered users? Pandora's IPO story is a tale as old as time -- market penetration! (with a capital exclamation point!). After all, isn't that the original YouTube strategy and the Twitter strategy after that? If a service gets big enough -- so goes the conventional wisdom -- then a gargantuan fish of Google proportions will gobble you up and you can leave all your worries to them! So, keep growing and growing and growing and spinning that PR wheel around and around ... get bigger, bigger and get even more biggerer (in the immortal words of "The Lorax").

Next stop Groupon on that same IPO train!