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first appearance on screen in 'The Social Network'
shows him shirtless (hello, ladies!), reclining in bed, sharing a post-coital conversation with a Stanford co-ed. When he mentions that he's an entrepreneur who invented a site that sounds, to her, "like Napster," he confirms that it was
Napster. Everyone knows Sean Parker invented Napster, she tells him -- upon which he confirms that he is Sean Parker, in the flesh.
Waaait a minute, you might say if you remember Napster's heyday and used to spend hours every day downloading songs on the slightest whim (not that we would ever, ever do that, because it's totally illegal). Didn't Shawn Fanning found Napster? Did producers change his name in the film? Why would they do that?
Off you go to Google, to discover that no, the movie didn't mix up their names. While Shawn Fanning may be the more well-known of Napster's creators (in part because it was his initial idea, earning him a spot on the cover of Time magazine
), Sean Parker was his business partner. As teenagers, Sean and Shawn -- both gifted hackers -- became friends online
(awww) and collaborated on launching Napster when Parker was 19 and Fanning was 18.
The basic details of the movie are true: After Napster was shut down, Parker founded Plaxo, departing the company following a dispute with the company's investors. He went looking for the next big thing and discovered it in Facebook, becoming an adviser to Mark Zuckerberg and eventually being named Facebook's president -- before he was arrested for drug possession and asked to leave company. (Parker still owns 4 percent of Facebook.)
So Sean Parker did
(co-)found Napster -- but as to whether someone would blurt out his name and not Shawn Fanning's as the man behind the music-downloading service, we still have our doubts. (Ah, Hollywood.)
• Vanity Fair Profile of Sean Parker
• Sean Parker's Wikipedia Entry
• Sean Parker's Facebook Page