Entrepreneur Sean Parker’s latest undertaking is Project Agape, a secretive start-up working to empower people to further their political or social cause using the Internet.
Parker, 27, isn’t sharing much publicly about the company yet, but it’s worth noting because Parker tends to make waves when he gets serious about something.
There was controversial music-sharing site Napster, where he was co-founder; the contact updating service, Plaxo, where he was also co-founder, and which rubbed lots of people the wrong way until it mellowed recently; and Facebook, where he joined up with Mark Zuckerberg early on and saw it emerge into one of the biggest social networking companies of the day. He’s also been articulate about start-up financing models.
Om Malik first found out about Project Agape a few weeks ago. VentureBeat spoke with Parker, but he’s committed to secrecy for now. The Founders Fund, the venture capital firm Parker recently joined as partner, has invested in the Berkeley, Ca. based Project Agape. Parker hasn’t left the firm, but has poured most of his time into the new venture. We’ll update when he has more to say. But here is some context, and some clues.
Notable is that Parker joined the VC world because he was exhausted with start-ups, he told us during an interview three months ago. At that time, we could tell Parker was getting impassioned about viral communication — so we’re not surprised at his quick embarking into the start-up world again. Here’s a snippet from that previous piece:
Parker also came up with much of what we see as the Facebook News Feed, and he believes that format is the future of communication on the Web. “The social graph,” he says, referring to the connection people have with others through multiple degrees, “is the critical ingredient.”
In other words, Project Agape is likely to use your extended personal network, first popularized by Friendster, to let you further your cause. (Parker was close friends with Friendster founder Jonathan Abrams.) Now, you join that with Facebook’s “newsfeed” feature, which updates you with the activities of your friends, and Project Agape may have something interesting. It’s difficult to see how this could be extended beyond social and political activism, because people wouldn’t respond very well to businesses using this sort of thing. But the number of page views created for advertising could be significant, either way.
So far, we’re just speculating, but more hints come from Michael Arrington, who has just published something based on an interview with Parker:
New sites like Change.org and dotherightthing and Six Degrees help people talk about issues online, but they don’t go far enough in using virality to get new users and get them actually doing things. Parker wants the kind of activity around these organizations that Facebook sees – tens of thousands of new daily users and hours and hours of social interactions. The result, he says, will be a much more efficient engine for organizations to get volunteers and raise money.
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