Pandora (NYSE: P), the music streaming service founded in Oakland, CA in 2000, has quietly announced that it will expand and direct future growth of some of its engineering operations to Atlanta. It’s a common theme these days for popular technology companies to declare the ATL as a second home. Last week, Edible Arrangements announced that it will locate its second headquarters somewhere in Buckhead or the Perimeter area. And, as we all know, Atlanta is on the final list for Amazon’s $5B, 50,000 employee HQ2. But who knew Pandora has had an office in Atlanta for 6 years? Furthermore, who knew they were making Atlanta a second home? If you answered, “Nobody?“, you are not alone.
B2C? In Atlanta?
That’s right. A billion dollar B2C brand is coming to Atlanta. Isn’t that what we’ve all been yearning for? Isn’t that why they created Switchyards? Atlanta is a B2B town for MarTech, FinTech, health IT, Infosec, and logistics. Not B2C technology. But we’ve all been saying for a long time that it would happen. Now it’s happening, and nobody has noticed. And it’s happening with a music brand. Atlanta has some solid music credentials, don’t we? We do, and that’s one reason Pandora chose Atlanta.
Cost of Living, Office Space, etc.
Pandora’s quiet announcement a month ago came on the tail end of the announcement that the company would be letting go approximately 5% of its staff nationwide. We’re familiar with the reasons companies choose Atlanta. You can buy a 5BR/3BA with a pool for less than the rent on a 2/1 bungalow on the highway near Silicon Valley, and office real estate is actually affordable in Atlanta. Pandora cited the “expansion” to Atlanta as a cost cutting measure. In other words, their engineers won’t have to live in a truck in the parking lot because they can’t afford rent.
Talent, Talent, Talent
Yes, they will save money on real estate, but the majority of that savings will be on talent. Two things drive Pandora: content (mainly music, but also Serial) and software engineering. Pandora is bringing a large portion of its engineering staff to Atlanta. That means Pandora is hiring software engineers. A lot of them. Want to work on the 15th floor of Atlantic Station overlooking midtown? I got a tour, and the view is outrageous, not to mention that the atmosphere is all about the music.
Who is Pandora?
If you listen to music, you know Pandora. You also know Spotify, Apple, and Amazon. Those are the players, and the prize is your ears. Pandora employs about 2,000 people around the U.S., but there’s more to it than just the music. Have you heard the term “music analytics“? Maybe, maybe not. Music analytics helps artists learn who and where their audiences are, so they can market their music directly to them. Pandora can tell any artist where their fans are, so the artist and label can plan tours around where they will sell the most tickets. But the opposite is also true. If an artist has fewer fans in a certain area, they can plan a tour date and maybe even special events to drum up awareness in that area.
That’s just scratching the surface of the technology behind the music. It’s that same technology that drives the new Pandora Premium, which makes it really easy for me or you to create our own, 100% custom radio station with only the songs and artists we want to hear, for $10 a month. No commercials.
And, since Pandora already has your ears, it only makes sense that they offer up some more podcasts like Serial. That one was pretty successful. What else should Pandora do to make its presence known in Atlanta?