Shawn Fanning is an American computer programmer, serial entrepreneur and angel investor who has a net worth of $70 million dollars. Shawn Fanning is probably best known for creating Napster, the file-sharing platform that was very popular around the turn of the century. Since then, he has invested in a variety of other tech start-up companies, most notably Uber.
Shawn Fanning was born on November 22, 1980, in Brockton, Massachusetts. At the age of 14 in 1994, Shawn Fanning met future collaborator Sean Parker over the internet. The two initially bonded in over topics like hacking and physics and then met in real life after Fanning started attending Northeastern University.
In 1998, while he was attending Northeastern University, Shawn wrote the code for what became one of the first popular peer-to-peer (“P2P”) file sharing platforms. He called it Napster. Parker raised the initial funds to build the program.
Once a preliminary beta program became available on June 1, 1999, hundreds of college students at Northeastern were up and trading music furiously. Shortly after, Shawn and Sean moved the company from Hull, Massachusetts to a more spacious location in San Mateo, California and even hired new employees to improve on the Napster Program. Napster was so popular that earned him a place on the cover of Time magazine. Tens of millions of users were soon downloading all sorts of files through the program.
However, its success was not without trials and Napster was ultimately sued into oblivion. The Recording Industry Association of America vehemently opposed the platform, as did a number of bands and performing groups. Though it was one of the fastest-growing business of all time, it was eventually shut down due to massive lawsuits. However, despite its quick demise, Napster had a lasting impact on the music industry, and some even credit it with being one of the early inspirations for services like iTunes. Fanning’s success with Napster helped him land on the list of top 100 innovators in the world under age 35 by the MIT Technology Review.
After Napster, Sean Parker went on to be an early advisor at Facebook and eventually earned a multi-billion personal fortune.
After Napster, Shawn Fanning joined and invested in a number of early-stage technology startup companies, including Snocap, Rapture and Path. He co-founded Snocap with Jordan Mendelson who had previously worked as Napster’s Chief Architect with funding from investor Ron Conway in 2003.
Within a few years, the company had laid off over half of its workforce. Fanning left Snocap before Snocap officially combusted, going on to develop Rupture in 2006. His timing was good, as Snocap was purchased in a fire sale in 2008.
Shawn officially became CEO of Rupture on October 2, 2007. Rupture’s future seemed bright as it was soon acquired by Electronic Arts for $15 million, but Fanning’s team at Electronic Arts was sacked in November 2009 in a round of layoffs. Only few months later, he started a new company called Path.com.
Path operated as a social network platform focused on photo sharing and messaging. A year later, in 2011, he again joined Sean Parker to found Airtime.com, a group video chat app. However, the launch of the company was disastrous. Despite the star-studded event, the app kept crashing repeatedly during its June 2012 public launch event.
A year later, Fanning started the company Helium Systems along with Amir Haleem and Sean Carey. Since then, he has continued investing in other projects, primarily still focusing on the tech and start-up space.
Uber launched in San Francisco in June 2010. It was a huge hit with customers, but investors were not exactly beating down Uber’s doors to invest in the fledgling startup at the time. In late summer 2010, Uber raised a $1.25 million seed round from First Round Capital, investor Chris Sacca, and Shawn Fanning. Shawn ponied up $25,000. Fast forward to May 2019 and Shawn’s stake, assuming he hasn’t sold any of his shares, was worth $125 million after Uber’s IPO.
Other Public Appearances
Due to Napster’s success, Fanning has been featured in a number of films and media. He was a presenter at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards and wore as shirt that said “Metallica v. Napster, Inc” representing the lawsuits that Napster was the embroiled in. He also has made a cameo appearance as himself in “The Italian Job” in which he is accused of stealing the idea from Seth Green’s character while Green is napping. He also appeared in a 2008 Volkswagen commercial that references his past with file-sharing platforms and was the subject of the 2013 documentary, “Downloaded.”
|Net Worth:||$70 Million|
|Date of Birth:||Nov 22, 1980 (41 years old)|
|Profession:||Programmer, Entrepreneur, Businessperson|
|Nationality:||United States of America|