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Internet is still pretty young medium so it’s no wonder the people who shaped it are usually still under forty and there aren’t too many of them. Some of the Internet guys were driven by their visions and dreams (such as Sergey Brin) while some were driven by ambition and curiosity. The former hacker who once got away with  breaking into a company network only with community service because he was under 18 years old at the time, Sean Parker (33) most certainly belongs in the latter category.

Sean Parker

Background

Born in 1979 to a TV advertising broker mother, and a U.S. government oceanographer father, Sean Parker learned the two things from his father that would help him in his career more than anything else. The one was programming, as his father taught him programming on the then cutting-edge Atari 800 machine when his was only seven years old, and the other was the unique equation concerning risks and family: “If you are going to take risks, take them early before you have a family”, his father told him and Sean surely took this seriously, as most of his works involved risks that were taken in his early years.

Autodidact

Skipping a college to pursue career in entrepreneurship was surely risky, but since Sean Parker was making up to $90,000 a year during his high school from the various projects he was involved with, it was actually the most logical thing he could do. In addition to this, Sean Parker was an avid reader ever since he had learned how to read so he probably saw further formal education as being redundant. Sean Parker doesn’t have academic credentials but that doesn’t stop him from being a true genius and a really successful man.

Napster

Sean Parker’s first major project was surely risky, as it was built on that tiny line between the freedom of information provided by Internet and copyright infringement, the subject that still causes headaches around the world. Founded in 1999 by Parker and his friend Shawn Fanning, Napster started off as a P2P sharing service for MP3 music files. In its first year of operation it had tens of millions of users, making Napster the fastest growing Internet business in history.

However, this stirred rage of the record companies, the RIAA and event the hard rock band ‘Metallica’ among others, so the original Napster was shut down, sold and now operates as an online music store. Legal or not, Napster surely revolutionized the way music is distributed and paved the path for iTunes and similar services.

Facebook

While all the credit for Facebook goes to Mark Zuckerberg, he himself admits that it was Parker who made Facebook a real company and defined much of its user interface. Sean Parker saw the potential of Facebook in the early days, when it was no more than a college project and took the risks with it and those risks surely paid off. Facebook was also the initial platform for Sean Parker’s philanthropic work, as he developed the ‘Causes’ app that is still in operation and helps gather funds for various causes.

So, take risks anybody, but don’t involve your family. Take them while your young, as it is clear that Parker’s father was right.

 


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