Rdio’s Larner to Step Down as CEO of Streaming Service

Rdio Inc. Chief Executive Officer Drew Larner is leading a search for a new CEO to expand efforts to sell combined music and video subscriptions to the streaming entertainment service.

After a transition period, Larner, who has been CEO of San Francisco-based Rdio since 2009, will stay on as executive chairman, he said today in a phone interview.

Rdio, which offers music subscriptions and started a video service in April, needs a leader with experience expanding startups to a broad base, Larner said. Since closely held Rdio began a U.S. advertising campaign at the end of 2012, there has been an eightfold increase in the number of new users of Rdio’s music service, he said, declining to provide specific figures.

“Momentum from last year has been tremendous,” Larner said. “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. 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.”

Korn/Ferry International is managing the executive search process, Larner said, adding that he has interviewed several candidates in the past couple of weeks. Janus Friis, the billionaire co-founder of Skype, is majority owner of Rdio and remains closely involved in the business, he said.

Larner has worked for Friis for more than a decade, and they have plans for another startup in San Francisco after the Rdio transition is complete, Larner said.

“Companies often outgrow their founding executive teams,” Larner said. “Those who get the company off the ground aren’t always the best at growing the company in the second stage into a mass-market product.”

(Company corrects metric of growth in third paragraph.)
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