Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning's long-awaited startup "Airtime," is designed to transform the social web with live video chat.
The service is web-based, with no app to download or registration required, and it taps into the same social graph as Facebook . The idea is to offer a friction-less way to video chat on any platform both with friends and with "people like you" outside your network.
Parker says the social network limits who users interact with and Airtime wants to "solve what's missing." Moving beyond people you already know, Parker says Airtime aims to "bring serendipity back to the Internet."
The guys behind Napster drew a number of celebrities, Jimmy Fallon, Jim Carrey, Joel McHale, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, both in person and via Airtime web chat.
It's a good thing Parker and Fanning lined up such comic relief - the big demo presentation suffered some major technical difficulties.
Sean Parker said "Seriously, it was working all night." Comedian Joel McHale quipped "Whose a** are you going to fire?" Jim Carrey couldn't help but joke about Parker and Fanning's past joint venture, asking "Where do I click to download free music?"
Airtime is drawing a lot of comparisons to Chatroulette-a service to chat with strangers that was the startup du jour back in 2010. Parker says he's aware of concerns, and that Airtime's top focus is "safety." Plus, the fact that the service is built on Facebook means that "the system knows who you are," which should help defeat the flashers which dragged down Chatroulette.
After the press conference CNBC caught up with Parker and couldn't help but ask about Facebook-- he was an early investorand played an instrumental role in its early years. He laughed at the mention of the analyst saying that Facebook will be gone in five years. When asked what he makes of the stock's drop after it's IPO, he said he thinks it needs time, noting that he along with many others at the top aren't selling shares.
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