Sean Parker’s resume has come through his founding or early management experience at startups like Napster, Plaxo and Facebook. He now takes the spotlight courtesy of his new position as VC at the Founders’ Fund, at the age of 27 years old (Source: VentureBeat).
This blog by Numair Faraz lauds Sean Parker as the new Jim Clark of our 2nd dotcom boom. Premature, I say, to slap that tag. Jim Clark created a lot of value from his creations such as Silicon Graphics, Netscape, Healtheon. Sean, on the other hand, did create wildly successful startups that thumbed their noses and stepped on the feet of many a music studio’s execs. He’s a business genius and dealmaker that was a perfect foil to the techies. While one could argue the IPO market counted against Sean Parker using the public markets as an exit strategy and realizing the locked-in value of his creations, stuff like Napster could never have been IPO-ed. Plaxo was a good social network updating service but it sure pissed the hell out of many people during its time, resembling more of social spamming. I, for one, hated its constant updates which was irking me to no end and one of the reasons I turned to Linkedin as a more elegant alternative instead. Facebook, on the other hand, is real value created. See my post yesterday for its valuation by Yahoo.
That being said, I think Sean Parker deserves respect for his prescience, for having seen the power of the big idea in Napster, Plaxo and Facebook. Unconfirmed sources credited Sean Parker as an IRC friend of Shawn Fanning, the tech whiz behind Napster. That these two startups became instantly recognizable names in our time is no fluke. Napster pioneered the music downloading industry that led to iTunes’ success today and highlighted the fallacies of the CD-buying trend of music consumption that was incongruent with the Internet age. Plaxo was an attempt that sought to augment the value of structural holes in our personal social networks, although Plaxo’s approach was more intrusive and direct as opposed to the serendipitous nature of social relations, even for active networkers. His ability and track record in turning an idea into a business is definitely a hallmark of a great entrepreneur, and now, VC too as he sniffs out the real deals from the muck of Web 2.0 ideas.
But I will leave it to you to judge Sean Parker himself. Making VC with Founders’ Fund, a Peter Thiel creation, at the age of 27 is no mean feat. If the past was a good indicator of the future, we can expect to see more visionary and status-quo-twisting ideas along the line of Napster, Plaxo, Facebook coming out of the portfolio of Founders’ Fund.