Napster, the original music -sharing app, came of age this week.
Founded 21 years ago almost to the day by Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning, the service allowed users to share their music library for free.
The service was shut down by court order less than two years later after losing a copyright infringement lawsuit led by major record labels, which also involved Metallica and Dr. Dre.
Napster paved the way for the success of streaming content (not only audio, but also video), showing creative founders such as Daniel Elk (Spotify) and Reed Hastings (Netflix) that there was a demand for streaming music and films.
It also forced music majors to eventually open up their catalogs and accept to be distributed by Apple’s iTunes, a critical step on the road to the ubiquity of music — remember the so-called “ATAWAD” (anytime, anywhere, any device) buzzword?
In this video, Parker and Fanning shared a vision that was 10 years too early: that users would pay for the digital distribution of music if it’s convenient enough for them.
Parker went on to become an early backer of Facebook (he’s famously portrayed by Justin Timberlake in the movie The Social Network) and a venture capitalist alongside PayPal co-founder and VC legend Peter Thiel.
How important is timing in inventions and innovations? When is the best time for VCs to invest in startups?
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