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On June 5, Napster co-founders Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning will be unveiling their new service, Airtime. The reunited team sent out invitations to an event at Milk Studios in New York City as anticipation builds for the mysterious company.
Should the entertainment industry brace itself for another “disruptive” technology?
Maybe not. At the moment, leading speculation on the project is that it is a video service connecting live users akin to Chatroulette.
On the other hand, Parker, who was also a founding president of Facebook and serves on the board of music streaming service Spotify, raised some eyebrows at the Web 2.0 conference last year by saying, “It’s so annoying that even on-demand TV is so screwed up.”
As for Fanning, since Napster, he’s bounced around several companies, including Snocap, a digital music rights administration company; Rapture, a social networking tool; and and Path, a photo-sharing mobile service with similarities to Instagram.
The new Airtime venture already has $8.3 million in funding from top Silicon Valley investors, Google Ventures, and Michael Arrington, formerly the editor of the Techcrunch blog. Additionally, Airtime has raised capital from a few notable names in entertainment, including actor Ashton Kutcher and musician will.i.am.
The launch of Airtime comes almost exactly thirteen years after the birth of Napster, which went online on June 1, 1999. After high-profile legal troubles, Napster was almost sold to Bertelsman before being forced into bankruptcy, then acquired at auction by Roxio, then purchased by Best Buy, and finally last December, merged with Rhapsody.
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