It is available as a Facebook Web app today. Mobile versions are planned.
Airtime wants to let people forge new relationships on the Internet and "break outside the social graph," the Sean & Shawn team says.
"In one sense, the Internet has become dehumanized. … It is boring," Parker said in an interview Friday at his San Francisco apartment, where he and Fanning demonstrated the product to USA TODAY.
"This is something very important to people, and their personal happiness, that the Internet isn't doing well," Fanning added.
The new video service builds on YouTube and Skype in the evolution of video communications on the Web and mobile devices, say analysts and tech executives.
Airtime will "make two-way conversation over video more common on the Web and mobile," says Bill Nguyen, CEO of Color, a video-broadcasting app for smartphones that expects to compete with YouTube. "It is a huge advance for this market."
Media analyst Rich Greenfield, who was briefed on the product, says Airtime is on a collision course with Skype. "It's Skype without software," says media analyst Rich Greenfield. "You see your (Facebook) friends online and click chat, just like you do with IM. There's no waiting or connection lags."
Fanning and Parker bring plenty of star power to Airtime. They turned the music industry on its ear more than a decade ago as founders of music-sharing site Napster. Fanning later co-founded Snocap, and Parker was Facebook's first president, where he advised Mark Zuckerberg and helped build Facebook's popular photo app. Despite the turbulent start of Facebook's IPO, Parker's stock is worth more than $2 billion.
Adding to their new startup's pedigree: $25 million in funding from the likes of venture-capital powerhouse Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and the ubiquitous Ashton Kutcher.