The dynamic digital duo from Napster, Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning, are back with a new social video platform called Airtime. Neither will detail what Airtime does – although it was formerly known as Supyo – but some commentators have tipped it will be a less sleazy version of Chatroulette.
Fanning has emerged as Airtime CEO with Parker operating as executive chairman and leveraging his Facebook advisory connections.
What they have revealed is that the project has raised $US8 million in Series A financing from a VC celebrity cabal that includes Accel, Andreseen Horowitz, Michael Arrington, Marissa Mayar, Scott Braun – Justin Bieber’s manager – and Ashton Kutcher. Ex-Googler Joey Liaw has also been named CTO.
Since their litigious Napster days, Parker infamously advised Mark Zuckerburg on how to build Facebook, becoming the social network’s first president and Justin Timberlake's muse. He also founded Plaxo and joined the board of Spotify.
The heavily anticipated Airtime has a mooted launch date of end of 2011. Parker told Forbes online that the goal of the company was to help people forge new relationships on the internet.
“There’s a yearning to break outside of the social graph. It will be a good chat product but they’re a bunch of good chat products. We are trying to build new relationships, not reinforce the old relationships,” he said.
He also admitted that Chatroulette certainly sparked the premise of the platform. Parker made a bid for the random video hook up site but Russian founder Andrey Ternovskiy rejected the offer.
“The internet historically has been very good at breaking down boundaries, yet the story of the last 10 years has been erecting more boundaries. So we want to come back full-circle to an earlier moment when the Internet was quite good at breaking down social boundaries,” Parker said.