Former Facebook "bad boy" Sean Parker doing a whole lot of good

Former Facebook "bad boy" Sean Parker doing a whole lot of good
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By Gabriel Noble

At just 35, Sean Parker has been public enemy No. 1 to the music industry and one of the first “friends” of Facebook, and he’s made billions along the way. In 1999, he co-founded Napster, a music-sharing site that attracted millions of users — and enough lawsuits from record labels to shut it down. Five years later, after seeing a site called “The Facebook” on the computer of his roommate’s girlfriend at Stanford, he met founder Mark Zuckerberg and soon became the president of Facebook.

Today, with a net worth of $2.6 billion, the serial entrepreneur is shifting his focus to his most personal and ambitious endeavor yet, the Parker Foundation. Katie Couric, Yahoo’s global news anchor, sat down with Parker to discuss his newfound commitment to philanthropy, the “unintended consequences” of technology, and how “The Social Network” got him all wrong. 

Parker believes that the same innovation and tenacity that are behind the greatest technological breakthroughs can and should be used to find cures for some of the biggest global health epidemics. Pledging $600 million of his own wealth to his foundation, he has set his sights on tackling two causes close to his heart: cancer and allergies.

Parker says he has donated $20M to immunology research, including funding to Stand Up To Cancer for the SU2C-Cancer Research Institute Dream Team of scientists and doctors devoted to this area of oncology. Stemming form both friends and family that have been affected by cancer, and his fierce belief that the immune system can eliminate cancer cells, he is committed to finding a cure.

Parker’s pledge of $24 million to establish the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy Research is also very personal. He has suffered from life-threatening allergies and asthma all his life and believes that just as there are treatments for environmental allergies such as pollen, similar treatments can be found for dangerous food allergies. 

When Couric asked him about the hit film “The Social Network,” in which he was portrayed by Justin Timberlake as a cocky opportunist during the early days of Facebook, he said, “Everyone involved with Facebook and all these Internet companies were a lot more boring and a lot more thoughtful.”

He personally believes his enormous success in technology comes with a responsibility to help innovate in other disciplines, including global health, politics and education. “I think I still consider myself a technologist,” Parker explains to Couric. “I’ll always be interested in technology and how you use technology to solve problems in the world.” 

Watch the full interview below:

 

 

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