Sean Parker
American internet technology entrepreneur
Sean Parker
Sean Parker is 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, Parker's net worth was estimated to be $2.1 billion.
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Stephen Colbert Breaks Down Exactly Why Gandalf Doesn't Do Weddings
Huffington Post - 6 months
Stephen Colbert channeled his inner Sauron to explain exactly why Gandalf doesn’t officiate weddings. “The Late Show” host and “Lord of the Rings” superfan broke it down after it emerged English actor Sir Ian McKellen, who played the character in the movie trilogy, turned down an offer to wed Napster founder Sean Parker and his now-wife, Alexandra Lenas, at their Tolkien-esque nuptials in 2013.   “Damn right, Gandalf doesn’t have time to marry you, Sean Parker!” Colbert began by saying on Friday. In case you didn't catch all that. #LSSC — The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) August 27, 2016 “He is the servant of the secret fire, wielder of the flame or Anor,” he continued, before ramping up the rhetoric. “He killed the mother truckin’ Balrog, after chasing the ancient immortal demon through the tunnels of Khazad Dum until they climbed to the peak of Zirakzigil where he smote the demon’s ruin on the mountain side.” S ...
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Huffington Post article
Napster co-founder Sean Parker once vowed to shake up Washington - so how's that working out?
LATimes - 7 months
It was Sean Parker’s house, but it was hardly his scene. The food station lines, rote candidate remarks and hordes of well-mannered donors chatting under a backyard tent did not scream renegade. Neither did the guest of honor, Hillary Clinton, who netted more than $1 million breezing through that...
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LATimes article
Biden expected to endorse in California's U.S. Senate race
LATimes - 8 months
Updates on California politics: California delegation reacts to Dallas tragedy, ex-Facebook president Sean Parker backs recreational pot July 8, 2016, 3:56 p.m. Welcome to Essential Politics, our daily feed on California government and politics news. Here's what we're watching: The California congressional...
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LATimes article
Can Silicon Valley cure cancer?
CNN - 10 months
Sean Parker says yes. The Napster founder has announced his latest endeavor: a $250 million bet on eradicating cancer.
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CNN article
Sean Parker, a Facebook and Napster Pioneer, to Start Cancer Immunotherapy Effort
NYTimes - 10 months
Mr. Parker’s institute will try to spur collaboration among six academic centers in developing ways to unleash patients’ immune systems to fight cancer.
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NYTimes article
Napster's Sean Parker Invests $250 Million In Immunotherapy Research
NPR - 10 months
The tech superstar, who's also known for his role in helping shape Facebook, has drawn more than 300 scientists to this area. Jeff Bluestone, head of the new endeavor, discusses the effort.
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NPR article
Tech billionaire donates $250 mn for cancer 'moonshot'
Yahoo News - 11 months
Tech billionaire Sean Parker announced a $250 million grant to fund research aimed at breakthroughs in cancer treatment through immunotherapy. Parker, the founder of music-sharing service Napster and an early investor and executive at Facebook, will create a center for immunotherapy -- which aims to use the body's immune system to fight the disease -- collaborating with six US-based cancer research institutions. "We are at an inflection point in cancer research and now is the time to maximize immunotherapy's unique potential to transform all cancers into manageable diseases, saving millions of lives," said Parker, who last year created the Parker Foundation.
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Yahoo News article
Sean Parker sets up $250 million cancer immunotherapy collaboration
Yahoo News - 11 months
A $250 million grant from Silicon Valley billionaire Sean Parker, announced on Wednesday, aims to speed development of more effective cancer treatments by fostering collaboration among leading researchers in the field. The Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy will include over 40 laboratories and more than 300 researchers from six key cancer centers: New York's Memorial Sloan Kettering, Stanford Medicine, the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of California, San Francisco, Houston's University of Texas MD Anderson and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The institute will focus on the emerging field of cancer immunotherapy, which harnesses the body's immune system to fight cancer cells.
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Yahoo News article
Napster cofounder Sean Parker gives cancer immunotherapy development a boost
LATimes - 11 months
Fueled by a $250-million commitment of funds by Napster cofounder Sean Parker, researchers from more than 40 laboratories and six of the nation's leading cancer research centers have entered into a first-of-its-kind collaboration to accelerate the development of cancer immunotherapies. Under the...
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LATimes article
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Sean Parker
  • 2016
    Age 36
    He donated $250 million to create the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, in April 2016.
    More Details Hide Details The funds initially went to over 300 scientists at 40 laboratories, in 6 institutions. Parker is an active supporter of groups including Code for America, Stand up to Cancer, the Cancer Research Institute, Malaria No More, the Clinton Foundation, ONE, and the "charity: water" campaign. In 2007 Parker founded Causes, originally one of the earliest Facebook applications, as 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 2013, 186 million people had joined Causes, donating over $50 million to 60,000 non-profits. Causes is now part of Brigade Media. Parker has made substantial donations to both sides of U.S. party politics; his allegedly "non-partisan" approach favors contributions to "elected officials who have shown themselves willing to work across the aisle." He favored Democrats as well as progressive causes such as campaign finance reform and gun control; he has spoken out in favor of higher taxes, particularly for the "wealthy and super wealthy," and in favor of higher capital gains taxes. Parker has also supported middle-of-the-road Republican candidates and super PACs, favoring "economically moderate" conservatives and candidates with a demonstrated interest in compromise and deal-making. In Washington, he has met with Republican lawmakers about ways of encouraging economic investment in struggling areas of the country. He has also supported cannabis law reform and in 2010, following the example of donations by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz (totaling $70,000) Parker donated $100,000 to the California Proposition 19 campaign to legalize marijuana in that state and $400,000 to the Democratic Party backed California Proposition 63 campaign to require background checks for all ammunition purchases.
  • 2015
    Age 35
    In 2015, he made a $4.5 million grant to support the Malaria Elimination Initiative at the University of California San Francisco’s Global Health Group, and a $10 million grant to create the Sean N. Parker Autoimmune Research Laboratory at UCSF.
    More Details Hide Details In February 2015, Sean was ranked number 5 on the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 2014 Philanthropy 50 list.
  • 2014
    Age 34
    In December 2014, Parker pledged $24 million to create the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy Research at Stanford.
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    In 2014, Parker stepped down from his role at Founders Fund to focus on other projects.
    More Details Hide Details Parker has also hosted The TechFellow Awards, a partnership between TechCrunch and Founders Fund that annually gives 20 entrepreneurs $100,000 each to invest in startups. In June 2015, Parker announced a $600 million contribution to launch the Parker Foundation, which focuses on three areas: Life Sciences, Global Public Health and Civic Engagement. It takes an interdisciplinary approach to large-scale challenges, combining insight, capital, science and technology, organization building and public policy. Since 2005, Parker has been an active donor to cancer research, global public health and civic engagement. In 2012, he pledged a $5 million grant to Stand Up to Cancer and the Cancer Research Institute to create the Immunotherapy Dream Team, uniting laboratory and clinical efforts that will lead to the immunological treatment, control and prevention of cancer.
    In October 2014, Parker became an advisor to The People's Operator, a mobile network provider that donates 10% of company profits to charitable causes.
    More Details Hide Details In 2006 Parker became managing partner at 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. Parker was given carte blanche by Thiel when finding investments.
    In April 2014, Parker announced his backing of a new initiative called Brigade, an online platform for civic engagement to "combat a lack of political engagement and interest in all levels of government across America."
    More Details Hide Details Parker serves as the Executive Chairman of Brigade. The initial round of funding was $9.3 million from Parker, with additional sums from other investors. In 2014, Brigade acquired Causes, an online platform for social impact and political activism. Causes had in 2013 acquired Votizen, a political advocacy startup. Parker and The Founders Fund were a part of Votizen's $1.5 million funding round in 2010, and Parker served on the board of directors. He has stated, "Politics for me is the most obvious area be disrupted by the Web."
  • 2013
    Age 33
    In August 2013, Parker invested in mobile commerce company WillCall alongside European angel investor Oliver Jung—during that round, a total of US$2.1 million was raised.
    More Details Hide Details The company, co-founded by Donnie Dinch, aims to develop partnerships with live music venues to enable customers to organize and pay for their concerts with only the use of their mobile handset.
    On June 1, 2013, Parker married Alexandra Lenas in Big Sur, California, in a wedding at which every guest was given a Lord of the Rings style costume.
    More Details Hide Details The wedding purportedly cost $10 million to stage. The wedding made national news after it was learned that extensive damage was done due to the unauthorized development of a campsite at the wedding site. Parker paid $2.5 million in penalties. Wrote Alex Madrigal of The Atlantic, "Nothing says, 'I love the Earth!' quite like bringing bulldozers into an old-growth forest to create a fake ruined castle. And to build this fantasy world on a spot that should have been open to regular old middle-class people: That makes it even better." As part of his settlement with the California Coastal Commission, Parker was also required to create a beach-mapping app. Former Coastal Commissioner Assemblyman Mark Stone said, “To be able to put money back into the same community that cares so much about coastal resources is a very positive thing.”
  • 2011
    Age 31
    In 2011, Parker became engaged to Alexandra Lenas, a singer-songwriter, and they were married in 2013.
    More Details Hide Details The couple has a daughter, born in 2013, and a son, born in 2014.
    In 2011 Parker reunited with Napster cofounder Shawn Fanning to found
    More Details Hide Details Some of the investors are Ron Conway, Michael Arrington, and Ashton Kutcher. Parker will serve as executive chairman and Fanning as CEO.
    Parker, who currently serves on Spotify’s board, negotiated with Warner and Universal on Spotify's behalf, and in July 2011, Spotify announced its U.S. launch.
    More Details Hide Details At Facebook’s f8 conference that year, Parker announced a partnership between Facebook and Spotify, which allowed users to share their Spotify playlists on their Facebook profiles.
  • 2010
    Age 30
    The pair traded emails, and in 2010 Parker invested US$15 million in Spotify.
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  • 2009
    Age 29
    While working at Founders Fund, Parker had been looking to invest in a company that could further Napster’s music sharing mission legally. In 2009 a friend showed him Spotify, a Swedish streaming music service, and Parker sent an email to Spotify’s founder Daniel Ek.
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  • 2005
    Age 25
    During a party in 2005 police entered and searched a vacation home Parker was renting and found cocaine.
    More Details Hide Details Parker was arrested on suspicion of possession but was not charged. This event was subsequently used by Facebook investors to pressure Parker into resigning as company president. Even after stepping down, Parker continued to remain involved with Facebook’s growth and met regularly with Zuckerberg. The event was later dramatized in the Hollywood movie The Social Network.
  • 2003
    Age 23
    Parker had experience in the social networking industry as an early advisor to Friendster and its founder, Jonathan Abrams, for which he was given a small amount of stock in 2003.
    More Details Hide Details Parker met with Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin, and a few months later joined the five-month-old company as its president. According to Peter Thiel, Facebook’s first investor, Sean Parker 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, Parker brought on Thiel as Facebook’s first investor. In the initial round of funding, he negotiated for Zuckerberg to retain three of Facebook’s five board seats, which gave Zuckerberg control of the company and allowed Facebook the freedom to remain a private company. Additionally, Parker 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."
  • 2002
    Age 22
    In November 2002, Parker subsequently launched Plaxo, an online address book and social networking service that integrated with Microsoft Outlook.
    More Details Hide Details Plaxo was an early social networking tool, which would later influence the growth of companies like LinkedIn, Zynga and Facebook. Plaxo was one of the first products to build virality into its launch, and that earned it 20 million users. Two years after founding Plaxo, Parker 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 Parker saw a site called "The Facebook" on the computer of his roommate’s girlfriend, who was a student at Stanford.
  • 1999
    Age 19
    Parker raised the initial $50,000, and they launched Napster in June 1999.
    More Details Hide Details 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 is considered by some to be a precursor to iTunes.
  • 1998
    Age 18
    He graduated in 1998.
    More Details Hide Details While still in high school, he interned for Mark Pincus (the 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, Parker 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, Parker was an avid reader, which was the beginning of his lifelong autodidacticism. Several media profiles refer to Parker 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 Parker 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 Fanning and Parker cofounded Napster, a free file-sharing service for music.
  • 1996
    Age 16
    Parker 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.
    More Details Hide Details While there, Parker 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 Parker’s senior year at Chantilly, he was mostly writing code and starting companies.
  • 1979
    Born on December 3, 1979.
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