Westergren dismisses the barbs as "propaganda." "There's a very concerted effort to make us into a caricature: the insensitive Wall Street-funded barbarians at the gate," Westergren says one evening. "I'm a big boy. I think, 'How do we defend against this?' As opposed to, 'Oh, I'm injured.' "
Westergren remembers holding a glass of wine — a beautiful red — in one hand, a Kobe beef burger in the other. On that night a few years back, inside a swank Las Vegas hotel suite where investors were courting him, it was as if his consciousness lifted out of his body and he could look down on himself. He couldn't believe how good he had it — a company he loves, no more heart palpitations.
"The vision is coming true," he says at a tucked-away table in a taco joint around the corner from the club where he held his Miami town hall meeting. "I just want to marinate in it."
Westergren tells audiences that they don't know the whole story of Pandora's box. Yes, it was full of bad things. But at the very bottom there was something else: the spirit of hope.
On this night, Westergren is full of just that.
He's talking about unleashing data to help bands build an audience. He envisions generating enough profits to pay for engineering a heat map based on Pandora Zip code information that would show small bands where to find their fans. He has been meeting discreetly with bands to talk about the idea for a month. Maybe they could fill some clubs. Stop sleeping in vans.
He's talking about figuring out a way to spread Pandora to other countries, about reaching a global audience of billions, not millions. He's talking about changing the way people listen to music.
The funny thing about that last goal, though — he's already achieved it.