Shawn Fanning, Ready for a Rupture


Last night at a holiday party hosted by super angel, Ron Conway, I ran into Shawn Fanning, who in the past started Napster and Snocap, and talked to him about his most recent start-up, Rupture. Angel investors like Conway and Joi Ito have invested in the company. (Snocap has been on the ropes and might be down for the final count.) Unlike his past two efforts, this one has nothing to do with music and instead is focused on gaming.

While he would not go into specifics, he did say that the new company would help game-fiends connect in a social sort of a way. The news of Rupture was first reported by Business Week last December, and since then the company has been in a beta test mode. Fanning said that the company was going to come out of stealth in a few weeks. I will keep you posted.

Photo Credit: Joi Ito via Flickr


Arunabh Das

There are many reasons Shawn Fanning needs to get in on the VC action. Most importantly, the fact that there has been a real slowdown in innovation in this decade. Rev it up !! – Arunabh Das

Arunabh Das Sharma

The VCs don’t get it. The people that drive the technology are not the ones that can drive the business. Shawn drives the technology. Driving the business should be delegated to the people that know business.

– Arunabh Das Sharma

Warren Stringer

Three thoughts:

First, I know Shawn and worked on his code. His style is focused and clean.

Second, I remember having sushi with Shel, who had been involved with a string of failures – just like Shawn has. He mentioned that he was taking on a new gig in Seattle to sell books online. I thought the venture was a bit far-fetched. He became employee #1 at Amazon.

Finally, I like Mark Cuban’s analogy to sports: you have to shoot 50% in basketball and 30% in baseball. For business, you only need to score once.

Joi Ito

I’m an investor in Rupture and a board member. Shawn is one of the best entrepreneurs I’ve ever met and have worked with. Many other entrepreneurs are mad/sour/upset about the past and blame others for everything that went wrong. Shawn never does. Shawn never complains. He’s always upbeat, hard-working, honest, thinking about his investors, thinking about his team, bright, creative, inspiring…

There are a lot of things you can legitimately rip on in this little frothy moment we’re having right now, but Shawn isn’t one of them.


Courtsquare didn’t invest in Snocap until after Fanning had already left the company and the music business. From what I gather, Hank Barry was
running the show at Napster and was responsible for the Bertlesmann investment.

Anyone who has met Fanning for 10 minutes will tell you that your characterization is way off. He’s one of the few truly humble and focused entrepreneurs you will meet.

Fanning does have a fault, though. He hires people to do things he should handle himself and then defers to them. Maybe it was youth and inexperience, I just hope he’s built up the confidence to do it himself this time around.

If you read this, Shawn, trust your instincts.

We’ll see if he’s learned that lesson.


Napster was a revolutionary concept and started the evolution of the music industry. The true idea was never that of big business, and the record companies and industry in general certainly didn’t want anything to do with a digital revolution.

Was this Fanning taking advantage of VCs?

Snocap was a novel concept and had a lot of potential. After years of fealing with the industry, Fanning burned out and moved on, The people left in charge of the company drove the vision into the ground.

Was this Fanning taking advantage of VCs?

You’re sure quick to judge someone who is pretty well respected in many circles (specifically entrepreneurial ones.) Maybe it’s just frustration that no one will put money into your big idea?

Regardless, if I looked at my past and it contained Napster, Snocap and now Rupture I’d definitely feel like I had promise .. even if things hadn’t worked out quite yet.


Yes the original Napster is bust and Snocap will be bust shortly. If any of these VCs had a clue about what it takes to make money in the music business they would never have put a dime into either one of these companies.

Combined Fanning has lost VCs over a 100 million between his last 2 ventures – and humdreds of millions paid out in lawsuits to record labels.

Those boys at Courtsquare Ventures are still licking their chops after the beating they just took with Snocap – and crazy thing here, one of VCs there used to be in the music business (or at least claims to have been in the biz).

OM, you should start a new section on gigaom for people/ventures like Fanning’s – its a category unto itself! STEALTH MODE _ BIG PRESS_ BIG FUNDING_MEDIOCORE PRODUCT (or simply plans for a product)_MORE BIG PRESS_BIG BUST(aka DEATH BY PRESS)_START ALL OVER WITH NEW VENTURE in STEALTH MODE.

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