Sean Parker: Stories of Success
Occasionally, Forbes.com shares profiles of some important entrepreneurs and
self-starters. These profiles are intended to provide inspiration and ideas to other self-starters. One of the most popular profiles is that of Sean Parker. While you may have never heard the name Sean Parker, you've most likely heard about some of his efforts. His list of involvement and investments includes big names such as Napster, Facebook, and Spotify. Those names are recognized on a global scale, and the story of the man involved with all three companies is a fascinating story of success, failure, and ultimate triumph.
Sean Parker's story starts much the same way millions of other Americans' stories start. He grew up in a family with two working parents. He played video games, went to school, and did normal "kid things." However, Parker also had a passion for coding and computer programming. His father exposed him to the concept, and Parker spent a great deal of time in high school learning the skills of coding, hacking, and programming. It was clear to those who knew Parker, that the computer was his passion. Instead of discouraging him, Parker's parents instilled in him a desire to pursue those passions and take risks early on in life.
The Launch of Napster
While in high school, Parker formed an online friendship with another boy named Shawn Fanning. The two were both in their teens, but they entertained one another by discussing hacking secrets, programming and coding tips and tricks, and some very concept scientific principles and ideas. Over time, the two came up with an idea for a music sharing computer program that could be downloaded from the Internet. The two worked together to design the code for the program, and Napster was created. It took a few years, but Parker was able to raise over $50,000 to fund the program and launch it worldwide.
Neither of the boys knew how the public would react to the Napster website. The concept of sharing music files was very new to the Internet community, and people were still just discovering the power of this new networking tool. The boys could never have predicted, however, that within just a single year of its launch date, Napster would be used by millions of people throughout the world. It took a year for Napster to become one of the most popular Internet sites on the web. Sean Parker assumed that his life was set for the foreseeable future. He had done the impossible and created something that was appreciated worldwide.
Lawsuits and Stumbling Blocks
Unfortunately, not everyone appreciated the Napster explosion. Professionals in the music industry saw Napster as a threat to its sales and profit margins. This, of course, was a valid concern. Now that people could get music for free, there was no reason to purchase CDs and albums from the music producing community. Lawsuits started piling up, and Sean Parker was forced to shut down Napster for good. Even though Napster is no longer in existence, the pioneering efforts of Sean Parker are attributed to many of the changes in the music community we see today. Apple, for example, relied heavily on Napster's concept and codes before launching iTunes, an online music downloading service that is very similar to Napster. The only difference, of course, is that iTunes has permission from the artists to sell their music.
The downfall of Napster was not the end of Sean Parker's activity. Years later, Parker heard a rumor of a new social network known as "The Facebook." He consulted with the network's founder, Mark Zuckerberg, and became the very first president of the company. His investment in Facebook has earned him a considerable amount of money.
Still interested in the music business, Sean Parker's opportunity radar started pinging once again when he heard of a Swedish music streaming software known as Spotify. The concept was very similar to the already-popular site known as Pandora, but users were actually able to select specific songs that they wanted to listen to. Sean Parker invested millions in the service in its early stages, and today Spotify has expanded in popularity worldwide.
Lessons Learned from Sean Parker
Obviously, Sean Parker's story is unique and incredibly inspiring. Not everyone can achieve the level of success that Sean Parker achieved. However, everyone does have the opportunity to achieve what Parker did throughout his lifetime. This, in a sense, is the overarching moral of Parker's journey. Sean Parkers is noteworthy because he took risks and opportunities when they were presented to him. In some cases, such as in the Napster debacle, his risks did not pay off. They even cost him in the long run. However, much of Sean Parker's ultimate success occurred years after Napster was shut down because of legal action. An average person may have been dramatically affected by such an obvious failure. That failure may have prompted Sean Parker to avoid taking risks in the future.
He didn't avoid risks, however, and his influence in the social media and music communities has grown exponentially because of his willingness to keep achieving and keep risking. As a business owner and entrepreneur, there are a few life lessons that can be taken from Parker's unique experience. First, always pursue something about which you are passionate and excited. It's virtually impossible to succeed in business if you punish yourself with tasks that are uninteresting or un-challenging. Second, don't let opportunities pass you by. Of course, you run the risk of latching on to opportunities that will ultimately turn into failures, but if you let every chance slip through your fingers, you'll never make an impact in the business community.
Sean Parker's life has been filled with ups and downs, successes and failures, but his willingness to accept a challenge and his determination to pursue his dreams continues to be an inspiration to people around the world.
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