Shawn Fanning

Shawn Fanning is an American programmer and entrepreneur, best known as the co-founder of and the creator of Napster, a peer-to-peer file-sharing platform. He's founded numerous companies, including Airtime, Rupture, and Path. [1]

Early Career

Shawn Fanning is known for creating Napster, a pioneering peer-to-peer () file-sharing service. Motivated by his experience at his uncle's company,, Fanning developed Napster to streamline music discovery and downloading. He launched Napster in June 1999 after dropping out of Northeastern University, and the platform gained rapid popularity, enabling users to share and download MP3 files. [1]

Napster faced legal challenges due to its success, with lawsuits filed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Metallica. In March 2001, an injunction mandated Napster to stop trading copyrighted music, leading to the service's closure in July 2001. A settlement in September 2001 required Napster to pay $26 million for past unauthorized music use and provide a $10 million advance against future licensing royalties. [1]

Despite its closure, Napster played a pivotal role in popularizing P2P file-sharing, influencing subsequent decentralized programs that proved more challenging to control. Fanning and Napster gained widespread recognition, appearing on the covers of magazines like Newsweek and Time in 2000. [1]


In 2002, Fanning founded Snocap, a marketplace for digital media. However, the company quickly closed due to negative reception from the public and investors because the website had poor customer service and numerous technical issues. In 2008, imeem acquired the company in a fire sale. [2][5]

Fanning co-founded Rupture in 2007, a social networking tool for publishing gamer profiles and communication in games like World of Warcraft. In 2009, Electronic Arts (EA) acquired Rupture. [3][4]

Fanning founded and launched a communication app called Airtime in 2012 and, a year later, co-founded with and Sean Carey. [6]

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Shawn Fanning


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