The fast, fabulous life of 32-year-old billionaire Sean Parker

Sean ParkerIf you ever wondered what it would be like to be a billionaire before forty, look no further than Sean Parker.

His fabulous, $20 million townhouse in New York’s West Village has an indoor swimming pool, features Byzantine icons and two massive, six-foot portraits by Spanish Renaissance painter Alonso Sánchez Coello, is large enough to accommodate a party of 800, and has at least four floors. Oh, and it’s called “Bacchus House,” which might give a clue to the Dionysian delights it’s meant to convey. When a New York Times reporter visited him recently, the house was swarming with staff and a hairstylist was waiting upstairs for Parker, who had just arrived via private jet from California, where he recently bought another home (in San Francisco).

These details come from a glowing, almost fawning profile of Parker in the New York Times style section today.

Parker, who cofounded Napster and then went on to play a key role in the early days of Facebook, was in many ways lucky to be in the right places at all the right times. But he’s also clearly a smart businessman with vast social skills and an eagerness to reinvent the music industry.

It’s not clear what he’s actually started, though. In fact, the profile points out that he’s been forced out of at least two companies by its venture capital investors. At Plaxo he “clashed with the company’s venture capital partners and was fired.” (The key active venture capital board members at Plaxo were Sequoia Capital and Ram Shriram, a founding investor of Google, though the Times doesn’t note that.) Then in 2004, he was hired as Facebook’s president, but got forced out less than a year later by Facebook’s investors, including Accel, Greylock and others. In other words, the blue-chip firms of Silicon Valley.

And in the early days at Napster, he managed to bring the ire of an army of lawyers on his company’s head by boasting that Napster was going to take out the music industry.

So, maybe his social skills are a little overrated.

“At every point I am besieged by people who would like me to conform to some social norm of whatever sort of social group they expect me to be a part of,” Parker says in the profile. “I never have any identification with these social groups.”

What he does have is an appetite for indulging in the high life, from Oscar parties to Washington D.C. schmoozefests and London charity fundraisers. With his fortune, he can do that. Just 32 years old, his net worth is estimated to be about $2.1 billion, thanks mostly to his stake in Facebook.

He also said he was “mortified” by his portrayal as a sleazy party boy in last year’s movie, The Social Network, writes the Times.

Among other revelations from the NYT story: He suffers from asthma, is allergic to nuts and shellfish, and carries dissolving strips of Benadryl in his wallet.

When asked if he’d ever used drugs, he responded: “I’m a believer in any method of mind expansion whether facilitated by meditation, religious experience or drug use. There is a value in using tools available to us, even if it is pharmacological in nature, if it expands the mind.”

That’s not exactly a “no,” is it?


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