Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Tuning Out: Last.fm Founders Leave Two Years After Selling to CBS

The founders of Last.fm, the London-based Web music start-up CBS snapped up for $280 million two years ago, are leaving the company. No word yet on whom CBS will appoint to replace the founding trio of Felix Miller, Richard Jones and Martin Stiksel, or what any of the men intend to do next–though Jones did tell users that the trio planned an “epic farewell party” and “a much needed holiday.”

UPDATE: I’m told the trio will stick around for a few months to help out with the transition. But to what? First priority is finding a replacement for CEO Miller.

Miller announced the deal in a short blog post today.

Last.fm, which provides free, ad-supported music streamed over the Web, was the first major acquisition the broadcaster made after bringing on digital M&A pro Quincy Smith, who is making plans to set up shop on his own. CBS (CBS) sends out a steady flow of press releases touting the site’s growth–the most recent one I have, from last month, pegs its audience at 30 million monthly users, while Miller’s post says they’re up to 37.3 million–but turning online eyeballs and ears into dollars has been hard for every Web music start-up, and Last.fm is no exception.

The unit saw its headcount cut significantly during CBS’s reorg of its interactive group late last year, and last month the company combined Last.fm with the online stations from its CBS radio unit.

Here’s text of the post announcing the founders’ departure:

After two years running Last.fm within CBS we feel the time is right to begin the process of handing over the reins. This is the latest stage in a long journey for us founders, which began in a living room in East London in 2002, and took us to the headquarters of one of the biggest media companies in the world.

It’s been a privilege working with the incredible team here in our London office, and we’re extremely proud of what we’ve achieved together. Last.fm’s users have more than doubled in the last 12 months (we are now at an all-time high of 37.3M monthly unique visitors), and we’re confident the site will continue to go from strength to strength. Being a part of CBS, and the recently formed CBSi music group, continues to open up many opportunities for Last.fm. Recent product releases such as the new visual radio, and the Last.fm on XBox announcement, are an indication of how much more Last.fm will achieve.

A huge “Thank You!” has to be said to all of you in front of your computers. With your contribution, enthusiasm and scrobbles you have helped to make Last.fm into what it is today: the best place for music online. Big up yourself for that, as we say here in East London.

That’s all folks, we are going to miss you!


Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work