Pandora Media Inc. announced today that General Counsel Delida Costin will step down at the end of July.
Costin, who was the Oakland-based Internet radio company’s first in-house lawyer, joined Pandora in 2010 and led the company through its 2011 initial public offering. She will serve as an advisor through September 30, according to an SEC filing.
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In a statement to employees at the $6 billion company, new CEO Brian McAndrews said “Delida has been a tireless advocate for Pandora, and her energy and enthusiasm will be missed,” adding that she is preparing “to take a well-deserved break.”
As part of her transition agreement, which the company attached to its SEC filing, Pandora accelerated vesting on stock options and grants she would have received had she stayed until next year. The company has also agreed to reimburse her for up to $10,000 worth of legal fees “in connection with this transition.”
Jennifer Liu, an employment lawyer with Outten & Golden in San Francisco, said it is hard to parse whether or not the departure is voluntary or involuntary without knowing the terms of Costin’s employment agreement or company severance policy.
“Generally, you lose what you haven’t vested if you’re leaving on your own accord,” Liu said. However, executives often negotiate accelerated vesting as part of their contracts and companies sometimes grant accelerated vesting as a good-faith gesture to a valuable employee, or as a way of securing their assistance during the transition. Costin was previously an assistant general counsel and vice president at CNET Networks. She left CNET in 2007 to become a solo practitioner connected to the Axiom legal network, working with startup companies and starting a blog that helped her meet and write about entrepreneurs in the Bay Area. One of them was Joe Kennedy, who served as CEO of Pandora through September 2013.
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