Facebook and Napster Men to Launch Airtime
It was revealed on Friday that Napster founders Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning are teaming up with the aim of shaking up the cyber-world once again with a new social video sharing platform called Airtime.
Parker, famously portrayed by Justin Timberlake in the Social Network movie, made billions from his stake in Facebook (NASDAQ: FB), and he is now looking to kick start this new project with the help of an old friend.
As suggested in the movie, he took a bit of a backseat with FB. Parker famously enjoys being seen as a Silicon Valley celebrity (he probably loved the Timberlake thing), so it was never on the cards that he would take his Facebook billions and disappear to live a quiet life.
Naturally, Airtime was unveiled at a celebrity-adorned party on Tuesday morning, with Snoop Dogg, Martha Stewart and Julia Louis-Dreyfus on the guest list.
So what does it do? Believe it or not, functionality does matter, particularly once the red carpet has been rolled up and put away.
Apparently, Airtime will aim to connect people for video chats. If that sounds like Chatroulette, that's because it is. Straight away, there will be concerns over the fact that you couldn't look at Chatroulette for more than a minute without happening some guy's exposed genitals. That is something that Airtime will have to deal with swiftly if it wants to have any respectability at all.
Airtime has raised $33 million from investors who obviously have faith in Parker and Fanning's ability to create something fresh and revenue-generating on the web. Napster famously shook up the music industry before disappearing in a sea of law suits, angry musicians holding the company's head under the water.
Investors pulled in so far include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Andreessen Horowitz, Accel Partners, Google Ventures, plus Ashton Kutcher, Yuri Milner, Ron Conway and Founders Fund.
Incredibly, Airtime made its first acquisition before it was officially unveiled, buying social content sharing startup Erly, which was started by former Hulu employees.
Parker, also a board member at Spotify, knows how to make money on the internet. That much is undeniable. What we haven't seen him do yet is create something from scratch and make a long-term success out of it. Maybe Airtime will be his time.
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