TuneIn relaunches to personalize traditional radio online

Palo Alto-based TuneIn launches with a dramatically different look for its website and apps.

TuneIn, a service that lets people listen to terrestrial radio stations on the Web, wants to become more like a social network for audio. 

That's means a dramatically different look for the Palo Alto company's website and apps. 

The old TuneIn worked like a search engine, allowing users to find and stream live radio from around the world. The new version, unveiled Wednesday, is designed to help listeners discover, follow and share stations and podcasts they enjoy, said Chief Executive John Donham.

Users will now see preferred content through a live feed that they can personalize by adding desired brands, such as CNN, ESPN Radio or NPR, as favorites. Audio providers themselves will now have their own pages to engage with fans. "With our launch today, TuneIn transforms into an audio network," Donham said in a statement.

The relaunch comes as the company, founded in 2002, tries to compete with large rivals in the streaming audio industry including Clear Channel's iHeart Radio and Pandora Media Inc. The company says it has about 50 million monthly active users. Pandora is considerably larger. As of April the Oakland-based company counted 76 million active users. 

TuneIn has been relatively quiet over the last year as well-funded competitiors, including Beats Music and iTunes Radio, have entered the streaming music market. The relaunch comes nearly a year after TuneIn completed a $25-million funding round led by Institutional Venture Partners, along with Sequoia Capital, Google Ventures and General Catalyst Partners.

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