Napster's Veterans Change Tracks

The defunct file-sharer's founders are striking out in new directions, though the emphasis remains on consumer services

Life after Napster looks pretty familiar -- at least for co-founder Shawn Fanning. On Feb. 24, the online-music pioneer's new owner, Roxio, which bought Napster's assets out of bankruptcy last year, said that before yearend Fanning would help to relaunch the site as a fee-based service.

That's not all Fanning and Napster's two entrepreneurial co-founders are up to. Each member of the twentysomething trio recently resurfaced in Silicon Valley with a new company in tow, saying he was hungrier and wiser in Napster's wake. "We were very naive,'' says Sean Parker, 22. "This time around, it's a completely different game.''

Well, not completely. They're borrowing a few things from their past, such as a focus on consumer businesses that connect users through networks.

Fanning won't give details about his new gig. Parker's startup, Plaxo, helps subscribers keep electronic address books current. Jordan Ritter's Cloudmark uses subscribers' spam reports to block unwanted e-mail across its network. Both companies are up and running. Says 24-year-old Ritter: "I'm not willing to make the same mistakes.'' Their new investors certainly hope so.

By Linda Himelstein in Silicon Valley

Edited by Sheridan Prasso

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