Sean Parker (born December 3, 1979) is an American entrepreneur who cofounded the file-sharing computer service Napster and served as the first president of the social networking website Facebook. He also cofounded Plaxo, Causes, and Airtime. As of March 2012, Parker's net worth was estimated to be US$2.1 billion.
When Parker was seven, his father taught him how to program on an Atari 800. One night, while hacking into the network of a Fortune 500 company, Parker was unable to log out after his father unplugged and confiscated his computer keyboard. Because his IP address was exposed, F.B.I. agents tracked down the 16-year-old. Since Parker was under 18, he was sentenced to community service.
He graduated in 1998. While still in high school, he interned for Mark Pincus (the former CEO of Zynga) at Pincus's Washington D.C. startup FreeLoader. He won the Virginia state computer science fair for developing a Web crawler, and was recruited by the C.I.A. By his senior year of high school, Parker was earning more than $80,000 a year through various projects, enough to convince his parents to allow him to skip college and pursue a career as an entrepreneur.
When Parker was 15, he met 14 year-old Shawn Fanning over the Internet, where the two bonded over topics like theoretical physics and hacking. A few years later Fanning and Parker cofounded Napster, a free file-sharing service for music. Parker raised the initial $50,000, and they launched Napster in June 1999. Within a year, the service had tens of millions of users. Napster has been called the fastest growing business of all time, is credited with revolutionizing the music industry, and is considered by some to be a precursor to iTunes.
In November 2002, Parker subsequently launched Plaxo, an online address book and social networking service that integrated with Microsoft Outlook. Plaxo was one of the first products to build virality into its launch, and that earned it 20 million users. Plaxo was an early social networking tool, which would later influence the growth of companies like LinkedIn, Zynga and Facebook.
Parker, who currently serves on Spotify’s board, negotiated with Warner and Universal, and in July 2011, Spotify announced its U.S. launch. At Facebook’s f8 conference, Parker announced a partnership between Facebook and Spotify, which allowed users to share their Spotify playlists on their Facebook profiles.
In 2011 Parker reunited with Napster cofounder Shawn Fanning to found Airtime.com. Some of the investors are Ron Conway, Michael Arrington, and Ashton Kutcher. Parker will serve as executive chairman and Fanning as CEO.
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