Pandora CTO Tom Conrad on Bringing Personalized Radio to Automobiles Everywhere


In the dozen years since it first launched, personalized Internet radio pioneer Pandora has become a staple on people’s computers and mobile phones. But the company’s mission definitely does not end there. Recently, Pandora has become more and more prevalent as a built-in feature in automobiles. It’s a big market — tons of radio is listened to while people are commuting in their cars — but it also comes with a unique set of challenges that are certainly separate from the world of traditional consumer electronics in which Pandora got its start.

Pandora CTO Tom Conrad is on the ground at the show in Las Vegas this week, and he swung by TechCrunch’s on-site studio to chat with Ryan Lawler about Pandora’s latest growth and upcoming goals — generally and in the auto space specifically.

Watch the video embedded above to hear Conrad talk about Pandora hitting 1,000 implementations in consumer electronics and automotives, how Pandora tackles its massive target market with a tight-running ship of 40 software engineers, how its consumer electronics strategy differs from its approach to the auto world, and what’s on the road ahead (see what I did there?)


Pandora Radio is an internet radio service, recommendation service, and the custodian of the Music Genome Project. Users enter a song or artist that they enjoy, and the service responds by playing selections that are musically similar. Users provide feedback on approval or disapproval of individual songs, which Pandora takes into account for future selections.

While listening, users are offered the ability to buy the songs or albums at various online retailers. As part of the Music Genome Project, over…

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Tom Conrad leads the Pandora product organization, which includes product management, user interface design, software development, and network operations.

Over the years, Tom has led numerous engineering and product design teams across a wide range of applications – from operating systems and enterprise software to video games and consumer web sites.

Before joining Pandora, Tom was the Vice President of Engineering at Kenamea, Inc. where he led the teams responsible for the design and development of an award-winning Internet-scale…

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