Good News

Napster co-founder invests $600 million in public health

The man who helped make file sharing so easy is now using his entrepreneurial talents a lot less controversially.

Sean Parker, who co-founded Napster more than a decade ago, announced a $600-million gift to help launch his charity, The Parker Foundation. The foundation will focus on civic engagement and public health, while also trying to find cures for diseases such as cancer and malaria.

The Parker Foundation will "apply the lessons learned from Silicon Valley start-ups to our philanthropic initiatives," he said in a statement.

"We must move fast, make concentrated bets based on our convictions, have the courage to make mistakes and learn from them."


Parker told The Chronicle of Philanthropy that his San Francisco-based foundation will focus on areas where progress can be made.

"My guiding principle of all my engagements is I try to only focus on the problems where I have some insight or a set of relationships or capabilities where I can actually do something about it and see a path to zero," he said.

An example he gave was the $4.5 million grant he presented to the University of California to start a research program aimed at speeding up and improving the efficiency of malaria-eradication efforts worldwide.

"There is a series of technologies that if you put them together correctly, there's no reason why we can't eradicate malaria in most of the world in probably the next 10 to 20 years."

"I'm trying to preserve an entrepreneurial approach, which is to only give when I feel that there's a solution that's fully complete."

On the foundation's website, Parker says, "Our projects may take years or even decades, but they will be achievable in our lifetime."

Earlier this year Parker was named one of The Chronicle's most generous donors, ranking fifth.

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