Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

Shawn Fanning, 21

Internet and Web

Napster

Not many undergrads write world-changing code, appear on the covers of Time, Fortune and BusinessWeek, or testify in front of U.S.Senate committees before they can legally buy beer. Shawn Fanning has done all three since founding the cultural juggernaut Napster in a Northeastern University dorm in 1999. Fanning transformed a software script he wrote to help a roommate retrieve digital music files from the Internet into a full-featured online swap service millions of users strong. The free program enabled users to post MP3 digital music files they had on their computers to an online index supported by Napster, and to access files from any other person’s computer. That way, users could swap music files directly. The application became so popular that the Recording Industry Association of America effectively shut it down in 2001 through lawsuits alleging copyright infringement. Fanning is busy relaunching his company as a paid subscription service. His concept, though, continues to challenge the status quo. Music industry giants are scrambling to mimic Napster’s success on a pay-per-use basis— but to no avail, as free copycat sites constantly spring up.

2002 TR35 Winners

Richard Barton

Internet and Web

Sergey Brin

Internet and Web

John Carmack

Entertainment

Josh Coates

Software

Paul Debevec

Entertainment

Shawn Fanning

Internet and Web

Justin Frankel

Internet and Web

Vinay Gidwaney

Software

Robert Guttman

Software

Travis Kalanick

Internet and Web

Lydia Kavraki

Software

Reiner Kraft

Internet and Web

Raymond Lau

Software

Max Levchin

Innovator of the Year

Pamela Lipson

Software

Rob Malda

Internet and Web

Steve McCanne

Internet and Web

Lou Montulli

Internet and Web

Kazuho Oku

Internet and Web

Larry Page

Internet and Web

Joseph Reagle

Internet and Web

Tim Tuttle

Internet and Web

Susie Wee

Internet and Web

Ethan Zuckerman

Internet and Web

Advertisement

More Innovators Under 35: