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Napster co-founder linked to Warner bid

By | Published on Monday 14 March 2011

Warner Music

According to reports, Sean Parker, one of the original founders of Napster, is part of a consortium to buy Warner Music.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Parker has joined with Californian billionaire Ron Burkle and supermarket magnate Doug Teitelbaum to bid for the US-based music major, which has been accepting takeover bids since the start of the year. It is thought this consortium is behind one of the bids still in the running, and that it may be the only one bidding for the Warner Music Group in its entirety, rather than just publishing business Warner/Chappell.

Parker, one of the co-founders of the original Napster file-sharing network, which was sued into bankruptcy by the music companies, including Warner, ten years ago, has made most of his fortune through his involvement in Facebook. It is thought that, compared to Burkle, Parker’s financial stake in the rumoured bid will be modest, however his involvement as a strategic partner could be significant, given his participation in various digital ventures over the last decade.

Much is being made of the irony of Parker possibly taking a stake in Warner, given Napster’s arguable role in the decline of the record industry, which has led to two of its biggest players now being on sale for relatively modest sums at the same time. Though, of course, had Parker and his pals not created Napster in 1999, something else would have come along to similarly challenge the traditional record industry, it being inevitable as soon as the world wide web pushed the internet into the mainstream.

Probably more interesting about the possibility of Parker having a influential role at Warner is that he has been advising Spotify, leading to speculate that having him on board as a shareholder might force Warner – frequently a hold-out on new digital services, including Spotify in the US – to become more adventurous in its digital dealings.