Pandora’s Pre-IPO Numbers: Not Too Shabby

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Doug has this analogy for writing about technology news that’s pretty dead on: It’s like a bunch of little kids all running after the same soccer ball. This month, that soccer ball just happens to be IPOs.

(NOTE: Credit goes to Paul Thurrott for that saying, though I’m not sure if he heard it from someone else – Doug)

Peter Kafka of All Things D has a great post up on internet radio service Pandora and their impressive numbers pre-IPO, which have grown exponentially over the past year. The main reason for the company’s recent success? Mobile streaming, particularly from iOS and Android powered devices. Pandora states they’ve seen over 50 million downloads of their mobile app for smartphones in the United States, adding some sizable heft to their ad inventory.

Overall the company’s growth, according to their Q1 SEC filing, points to some impressive trends: Ad revenue is up to $51 million, or 131% from $21.6 million; and users are up to 94 million, or 77% from 53 million listeners.

On the flip side, losses are also up $6.8 million, or 126% from $3 million.

The majority of Pandora’s revenue, however, is used to bolster up its music catalog, with 58% of it used to secure expensive royalties. The service now boasts over 800,000 songs as well as a recent injection of comedy channels.

It’s important to note, too, that the company leans pretty heavily on advertising for revenue: Ads in 2011 account for $119 million, while paid subscriptions brought in a much more meager $18 million.

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The future might not be all sunshine and dollar signs, though—the company is still $92 million in debt, and the threat of new competitors and a looming maturity may soon level off its growth.

But there are bright spots, and Pandora’s primary strategy to proliferate across as many platforms as possible has worked out in their favor, especially with all the new mobile and tablet technologies coming out.

In particular, Pandora is currently looking at deals with auto manufacturers to bring the radio service to cars, with companies like Ford, Mercedes-Benz and MINI already on board. An incredible opportunity, to be sure, since a large slice of overall radio listening takes place in the car.

And with traffic as congested as ever, that’s a whole lot of listening that could be taking place.

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