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Shawn Fanning

Shawn Fanning
Born (1980-11-22) November 22, 1980
Brockton, Massachusetts
Residence San Francisco
Nationality American
Citizenship United States of America
Alma mater Northeastern University (Dropped out in 1999)
Known for Co-founder and lead software engineer of Napster
Notable work(s) Napster, Snocap, Rupture, Path
Net worth Decrease US$7.5 million (2009)[1]
Shawn Fanning on Facebook

Shawn Fanning (born November 22, 1980) is an American computer programmer, serial entrepreneur, and angel investor. He developed Napster, one of the first popular peer-to-peer ("P2P") file sharing platforms, in 1998. The popularity of Napster was widespread and Fanning was featured on the cover of Time magazine.[2]

The site in its initial free P2P incarnation was shut down in 2001 after the company's unsuccessful appeal of court orders arising from its encouraging the illegal sharing of copyrighted material. A paid subscription version of the site followed, and was purchased by Rhapsody on December 1, 2011. Following his involvement with Napster, he joined, and invested in, a number of early-stage technology startup companies.


  • Computer career 1
    • Napster 1.1
    • Snocap 1.2
    • Rupture 1.3
    • Path 1.4
  • In popular culture 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Computer career


On June 1, 1999, Fanning released a preliminary beta program of Napster and soon, hundreds of college students at Northeastern were up and trading music furiously.


In 2002, Fanning was named to the MIT Technology Review TR100 as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35.[3] In 2003, he opened a new company, Snocap, along with Jordan Mendelson (Napster's Chief Architect), and Ron Conway. The company aspired to be a legitimate marketplace for digital media. However, their partners and the public did not respond well. Customer support was poor, and technical issues were numerous. One of their primary partners, CD Baby, wrote a scathing account of their relationship.[4][5] In late 2007, Snocap laid off 60% of its workforce. ValleyWag wrote an article that Fanning had long left Snocap and began to work on another venture, Rupture. The ValleyWag article stated that the failure was largely due to Snocap's CEO Rusty Rueff and that of former CTO Dave Rowley, who "made a mess of engineering before he was fired".[6] Snocap was looking to sell itself and fast.[7] In 2008, they found a buyer; imeem acquired Snocap in a fire sale.[8][9]


The Rupture project was announced in late 2006 with seed funding, and CrunchBase notes the date Shawn officially became CEO of Rupture was October 2, 2007.

In December 2006, Fanning developed Rupture, a social networking tool designed to handle the task of publishing gamers' individual profiles to a communal space and facilitating communication between World of Warcraft players. Rupture was later acquired by Electronic Arts for $15 million.[10] Fanning's career at Electronic Arts was short-lived as a round of layoffs in November 2009 included him and his team at Rupture.[11]


A few months after Fanning was laid off from Electronic Arts, he started a new company called In January 2010, Dave Morin announced he was leaving Facebook, where he was a Senior Platform Manager, to join Fanning and become CEO at Path.[12][13]

In popular culture

In 2000, Fanning appeared as a presenter at the MTV Video Music Awards. He appeared wearing a Metallica T-shirt with "For Whom the Bell Tolls" playing in the background, and when asked where he got it, stated, "a friend of mine shared it with me." Lars Ulrich's reaction was shown as feigned boredom.[14]

In October 2000, Fanning was featured on the cover of Time magazine.[15]

In 2003, Fanning had a cameo appearance, playing himself, in the 2003 film The Italian Job. In the film, Seth Green's character accused Fanning of stealing Napster from him while he was taking a nap in their Northeastern University dorm room. Although other characters see this as mere bragging, a scene shows Fanning in fact creeping over Green's sleeping body.

In early 2008, Fanning appeared in a Volkswagen commercial directed by Roman Coppola, in which he poked fun at his file-sharing past.[16]

Fanning and his site Napster were the subject of Alex Winter's documentary Downloaded in 2013.


  1. ^ "The most successful college dropouts in history". Archived from the original on 2010-11-18. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  2. ^ "Time Magazine Cover: Shawn Fanning - Oct. 2, 2000". TIME magazine. Retrieved 2 April 2010. 
  3. ^ "2002 Young Innovators Under 35: Shawn Fanning, 21".  
  4. ^ "What happened with CD Baby and Snocap". CD Baby. 2007-10-19. 
  5. ^ "The Rise & Fall of Snocap – What Did We Learn?". Penny Distribution. 2007-12-18. 
  6. ^ "Shawn Fanning leaves his Snocap baby an orphan". ValleyWag. 
  7. ^ Greg Sandoval (2007-10-11). "Shawn Fanning's Snocap lays off 60 percent of workforce". CNET News. 
  8. ^ Hansell, Saul (2007-10-12). "Shawn Fanning’s Snocap Prepares for Fire Sale". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ Orlowski, Andrew (2008-04-07). "Right idea, wrong time: Snocap's corpse washes up at Imeem". Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
  10. ^ Peter Kafka (2008-08-04). "Business Insider". Business Insider. Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
  11. ^ Rob Crossley (2009-11-22). "EA studios named in mass-layoff operation". Develop Online. 
  12. ^ Michael Arrington (2010-01-22). "Dave Morin Leaves Facebook, To Launch New Startup with Napster Creator Shawn Fanning". TechCrunch. 
  13. ^ "Dave Morin". CrunchBase. 
  14. ^ "Lars Ulrich". YouTube. June 18, 2007
  15. ^ Time magazine. October 2, 2000
  16. ^ Boards Screening Room

External links

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