|Sean Parker, co-founder of Facebook: Jonas Fredwall Karlsson/Vanity Fair|
At 19, Sean Parker helped create Napster. At 24, he was founding president of Facebook. At 30, he’s the hard-partying, press-shy genius of social networking, a budding billionaire, and about to be famous—played by Justin Timberlake in David Fincher’s new film, The Social Network.
Sean Parker was sitting in World Civilization class at his Virginia high school when someone brought him a note. His father, it read, was waiting to take him to an orthodontist appointment. A chill ran down Parker’s spine. He didn’t have an orthodontist. When he got outside, his father angrily whisked him into the family minivan. When they arrived at their modest suburban house, a team of F.B.I. agents was toting papers and a desktop computer out of Sean’s room.
Within a few short years, Parker went from apprehended 16-year-old hacker—he had managed to break into the computer networks of numerous multi-national corporations and even military databases—to world-class Internet entrepreneur. In 1999 he became rather notorious, at 19, for helping an even younger teenager named Shawn Fanning create Napster. That free song-sharing service upended the music industry.
More recently, Parker played an indispensable role as the founding president of Facebook, the mammoth social-networking site where 500 million people now spend 700 billion minutes a month. Had he not joined founder Mark Zuckerberg in Palo Alto in the summer of 2004, when the fledgling Facebook was just five months old, the service almost certainly would not be the colossus it is today.
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