There are a handful of surefire ways to know you’ve become a pop culture (or geek culture star): a major magazine cover shoot, being spoofed in a movie or TV show, or even playing yourself in a commercial. Computer programmer Shawn Fanning can check all three off the list. From jokes that he stole the concept for the original Napster in 2003’s The Italian Job to a recent VW commercial, he’s had it all.
What he hasn’t had is an entrepreneurial home run; a company that’s succeeded. The original Napster file sharing service shifted the course of the music industry but as a business it wilted in the legal crosshairs of the music world. Fanning’s follow up project Snocap was hyped to be a sophomore step up with its business to business music services. That too, however, fell victim to tough times; a casualty of the antiquated DRM encryption environment that enveloped digital music sales. Snocap sold out to iMeem officially in a fire sale last month. The deal was reported back in February.
For all the efforts, the music industry just wasn’t proving a treasure trove for Fanning. In his third startup, he shifted to gaming and now it looks like the adjustment may finally get him some entrepreneurial credit to go with his pop culture status.
Rupture, which has been in a closed beta, has been at work developing social networks around online multiplayer games. More than just another clone of a Facebook or a MySpace, the site reportedly is designed to capture actual playing data (Scores, levels etc) from games and automatically load the info to member profiles. The platform is also designed to be game agnostic. In theory, it could even be used (if the technology proves viable) to incorporate input from internet connected console games.
Rupture previously raised angel funding in the ballpark of $2 to $3million. If the $30million valuation proves accurate it will be a nice return for Fanning et all.
No word yet from EA.