Rdio brings on Amazon executive Anthony Bay as new CEO

Bay, who also has experience at Microsoft and Apple, will be tasked with increasing Rdio's userbase

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
December 3, 2013
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Music streaming service Rdio has brought in a new CEO, it was announced on Tuesday. The company named Anthony Bay,  the former head of Amazon's global video business, to the position.

Former CEO Drew Larner will be stepping down immediately to become Vice-Chairman and Strategic Advisor to the Board of Directors at the company. Larner first announced his intentions to resign as CEO in June, noting that he was not the right fit for what he believed would be the company's next stage.

“The best person to take this to the next level, it’s probably someone with a different skill set. I’m a business guy and a deal guy," Larner said at the time. "The next stage of the company is about building an enormous user and subscription base, and there are people out there better at that than I am.”

For his part, Bay brings a wealth of executive experience to his new role. In addition to his time at Amazon, Bay also previously held executive positions at Microsoft and Apple.  

He spent eight years at Apple, where he led the company's Online Services; while at Microsoft he was responsible for the company's ecommerce technology platform and for developing Windows Media Technologies, including Windows Media Player.  

Bay was also Chairman at Loudeye, before the company was sold to Nokia.

"Anthony's track record building successful digital media businesses over the last two decades has been vast and deep," Larner said in a statement. "His experience will be incredibly valuable to Rdio as we focus on building a global, scalable business model positioned for long-term leadership and growth. We're thrilled he's joining Rdio."

Bay will certainly have his work cut out for him by joining Rdio, as the company has massive competition to deal with, most notably Spotify, which just raised $250 million in new funding, bringing its total to $538 million. 

Spotify has more than 24 million active users and over six million paid subscribers. Since its launch in 2008, Spotify says it’s driven more than $500 million to rights holders and expects to drive another $500 million in 2013.

And there is also Pandora, which hit 200 million users in April, doubling its userbase in two years. That company also recently hired a new CEO as well. 

Competition for Rdio also comes in the form of already established services like Songza, and companies like MicrosoftAppleNokiaGoogle and even Twitter trying to carve out their own piece of the pie (though that last one did not seem to work out very well).

Rdio has certainly not been immune to the pressure of so many others vying for the same listeners and piece of the pie.

Just last month, Rdio laid off as many of 35 workers in a bid to "improve its cost structure and ensure a scalable business model for the long-term," a.k.a. stay competitive in an increasingly crowded space.

And that is despite the fact that it also said that it “tripled the number of new users” since the end of last year and that 90 percent of its subscribers pay $10 per month for the service. But Rdio is now looking at a new business model, however, one that would rely less on paid subscriptions and more on ad supported revenue.

As CEO, Bay will be now be responsible for increasing both free and paid subscribers, Rdio founder Janus Friis said in a statement. 

"Under Anthony's leadership, Rdio will focus on building the world's best free, ad-supported streaming service and dramatically growing our active, paying user base, globally. Anthony will also play a critical role in unlocking the value of our global terrestrial radio partnerships," said Friis.

Launched in August 2010, and founded by Skype co-creator Friis, Rdio is currently available in 31 countries around the world. The company has not revealed the exact number of users it has.

Rdio raised a $17.5 million round of financing from new investor Mangrove Capital Partners, with participation from existing investors Friis, Atomico and Skype, in February of 2011.

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