• Dec 3, 1979
    (b.) - ?

Bio/Description

An American entrepreneur who was a co-founder of the file-sharing computer service Napster and the first President of the social networking website Facebook, he also co-founded Plaxo, Causes, and Airtime. As of March 2012, his net worth was estimated to be $2.1 billion. He was born in Herndon, Virginia to Diane Parker, a TV advertising broker, and Bruce Parker, a U.S. government oceanographer. When he was 7, his father taught him how to program on an Atari 800. His father, who put his family over his entrepreneurial dreams, told him, "if you are going to take risks, take them early before you have a family." As a teenager, his hobbies were hacking and programming. One night, while hacking into the network of a Fortune 500 company, he was unable to logout after his father unplugged his computer keyboard. Because his IP address was exposed, F.B.I. agents tracked down the 16-year-old. Since he was a minor, he was sentenced to community service. He attended Oakton High School in Fairfax County, Virginia for two years before transferring to Chantilly High School in 1996 for his junior and senior years. While there, he wrote a letter to the school administration and persuaded them to count the time he spent coding in the computer lab as a foreign language class. As a result, towards the end of his senior year at Chantilly, he was mostly writing code and starting companies. He graduated in 1998. While still in high school, he interned for Mark Pincus (the current 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, he 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. As a child, he was an avid reader, which was the beginning of his lifelong autodidacticism. Despite his lack of formal education, he is sometimes referred to as a "genius." He considers his time at Napster to be his college education, calling it "Napster University," since he became well-versed in ­intellectual property law, corporate finance, and entrepreneurship. When he 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, he and Fanning co-founded Napster, a free file-sharing service for music. He raised the initial $50,000, and they launched Napster in June 1999. Within a year, the service had tens of millions of users. Napster was opposed by recording labels, the Recording Industry Association of America, and the heavy metal band Metallica, among others. Lawsuits by various industry associations eventually shut down the service. Napster has been called the fastest growing business of all time, is credited with revolutionizing the music industry and served as a precursor to iTunes. In November 2002, he 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. Two years after founding Plaxo, he was ousted by the company’s financiers, Sequoia Capital and Ram Shriram, in an acrimonious exit that reportedly involved the investors hiring private investigators to follow him. In 2004, he saw a site called "Thefacebook" on the computer of his roommate’s girlfriend, who was a student at Stanford. He had experience in the social networking space as an early advisor to Friendster and its founder Jonathan Abrams, for which he was given a small amount of stock in 2003. He met with Mark Zuckerberg and a few months later joined the five month old company as its founding President. He was Facebook’s first investor, according to Peter Thiel, and was the first to see potential in the company to be "really big," and that "if Mark ever had any second thoughts, Sean was the one who cut that off." As President, he brought on Thiel as Facebook’s first investor. Within the initial round of funding, he negotiated for Zuckerberg to retain three of Facebook’s five board seats. This gave Zuckerberg control of the company, allowing Facebook the freedom to remain a private company. Additionally, he is said to have championed Facebook’s clean user interface and developed its photo-sharing function. Zuckerberg notes that "Sean was pivotal in helping Facebook transform from a college project into a real company." During a party in 2005, police entered and searched a vacation home he was renting and found cocaine. He was arrested on suspicion of possession but not charged. This event was subsequently used by Facebook investors to pressure him into resigning as company President. Even after stepping down, he continued to remain involved with Facebook’s growth and met regularly with Zuckerberg. The event was later dramatized in The Social Network. While working at The Founders Fund, he had been looking to invest in a company that could progress Napster’s music sharing mission legally. In 2009, a friend showed him Spotify, a Swedish streaming music service, and Parker sent an email to Daniel Ek, Spotify’s founder. The pair traded emails, and in 2010 he invested $15 million in Spotify. He negotiated with Warner and Universal, and in July 2011, Spotify announced its U.S. launch. He currently serves on Spotify’s board, At Facebook’s f8 conference, he announced a partnership between Facebook and Spotify, which allowed users to share their Spotify playlists on their Facebook profiles. In 2010, he and The Founders Fund were a part of Votizen's $1.5 million funding round. He now serves on the board of directors for Votizen and he believes "Politics for me is the most obvious area". In 2011, he reunited with Napster co-founder Shawn Fanning to found Airtime.com. Some of the investors are Ron Conway, Michael Arrington, and Ashton Kutcher. He will serve as executive chairman and Fanning as CEO. In 2006, he became managing partner at the Founders Fund, a San Francisco based venture capital fund founded by Peter Thiel. Founders Fund is focused on investing in early-stage companies, has $500 million in aggregate capital, and has invested in Quantcast, Path, and Knewton. He has carte blanche from Thiel when finding investments. He also hosts The TechFellow Awards, a partnership between TechCrunch and The Founders Fund that annually gives 20 entrepreneurs $100,000 each to invest in startups. He is an active philanthropist, and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer research, anti-malaria groups, charity: water, and marijuana legalization. He has spoken out in favor of higher taxes, particularly for the "wealthy and super wealthy," and in favor of higher capital gains taxes. He is the founder of Causes, a philanthropic service that uses social media to connect charities with their supporters and potential donors and then communicates that connection to the user's network of friends. By 2010, 90 million people had joined Causes, donating a total of $27 million. Originally one of the earliest Facebook applications, Causes now lives at Causes.com and raises more than $20,000 a day for various charitable causes. He was portrayed by Justin Timberlake in the 2010 film, “The Social Network”, a fictionalized account of Facebook's founding and early days. Timberlake was lauded for his performance, which portrayed him as a cruel, cocky opportunist. Although he praised David Fincher as a director, many have remarked on the differences between him and his portrayal by Timberlake. Former Facebook growth chief Chamath Palihapitiya noted that he is "really the exact opposite of his portrayal in the film". He took issue with the movie version of Eduardo Saverin's exit from Facebook (with whom he reportedly remains friends), as it ironically paralleled his own exit from Plaxo. He called the character a "morally reprehensible human being," although he noted that "it's hard to complain about being played by a sex symbol." In 2011, he was a guest on Jimmy Fallon, featured on the cover of the Forbes 400 issue, and was profiled in Vanity Fair. Parker is primarily based in New York City although he frequently travels to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Stockholm, and London for Spotify, Airtime, and the Founders Fund. His $20 million townhouse in Manhattan includes an indoor pool, 30-foot bamboo plants, and an entrance hall adorned with actual subway cars. He is engaged to Alexandra Lenas, a singer-songwriter. He is referred to, but not named in “Turing’s Cathedral” by George Dyson as having said, “How much human life can we absorb?” answers one of Facebook’s founders, when asked what the goal of the company really is.” 1096 Sean Parker, private communication, July 17, 2011
  • Date of Birth:

    Dec 3, 1979
  • Gender:

    Male
  • Noted For:

    Co-founder of the file-sharing computer service Napster (credited with being a precursor to iTunes); and the first President of the social networking website Facebook
  • Category of Achievement:

  • More Info: