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For taking personalized music on the road


Pandora allows millions of users to play music in their cars. And the number will likely grow--the company filed for an IPO in early February.

Illustration by: Eric Palma

In 2010, Pandora's custom-music machine purred like never before, forging strategic partnerships and securing spots on everything from iPhones to entertainment systems in the dashes of new cars—lots of new cars. Pandora, which now claims more than 80 million listeners, has long been on board Fords and Mercedes, and in the past few months, Toyota and Mini added options that include the service. Recent deals with Alpine and Pioneer have allowed in-dash components to link up to Pandora via web-connected smartphone apps. Pandora's "anytime, anywhere" mantra seems like manifest destiny now. "In the last few years, what we've really done is work on the efficiency in how we monetize the service," says founder Tim Westergren. "And we've gotten really good at it." So good, in fact, that Westergren claims to have lured more than 2% of the total radio audience of his broadcast competitors. Pandora turned its first profit in 2009 and reportedly had sales of more than $100 million in 2010.