SoundCloud’s Eric Wahlforss is stepping away from the music and podcast streaming platform he co-founded after more than a decade at the company, most recently in the chief product officer role.
Wahlforss announced the decision to step back from day-to-day ops — and “transition into an advisory role” — in a post on social media, writing: “After more than 11 years of building up our wonderful platform for artists, DJs and audio creators, I have come to the realisation that now is the right time for me to take a break, reflect and think about what to create next.
“So I have decided to step back from day-to-day operations at SoundCloud, and transition into an advisory role for the company starting March 1st.”
Wahlforss previously served as SoundCloud’s CTO. But in early 2017 an ex-Yahoo VP of engineering, Artem Fishman, was hired to take the role as the company made a series of changes to its leadership structure in an attempt to shift focus and stem losses that, in 2015, were running at $52 million on revenues of just $22 million.
Later that same year, in August 2017, SoundCloud laid off 40 percent of its staff, and shortly after that its other co-founder, Alex Ljung, announced he was stepping aside — handing the CEO role to former Vimeo CEO, Kerry Trainor, but remaining as chairman.
Wahlforss similarly appears not to want to sever ties completely with the company he helped build, and writes that his decision to step away was “not easy.”
Though he also flags the presence of the new leadership team, saying he feels SoundCloud is in “such capable hands” and that the team is “stronger than ever.”
SoundCloud raised a $170 million emergency funding round in fall 2017 to keep itself in business, and senior execs remain under huge pressure to shrink costs and find a way to generate sustainable revenues. So with investor priorities shifting, the sight of both founders heading for exit door is not surprising.
There have also been signs of a quickening of pace at the company in recent months.
Late last year SoundCloud finally opened up monetization — which had previously only been offered to the very biggest artists via an invite-only program. And more recently it made it easier for users to share links to their tracks to Instagram Stories — looking to help its users reach a wider audience.
Attempts to boost revenue and usage while cutting costs could be signs the management team is trying to get the books in better shape to both attract a buyer and sell at a better price. And with both founders heading for the sidelines, that process might be made a little easier.