Friday 27 April 2018

Facebook shareholder denies public row with Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Getty Images
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Getty Images

Emma Barnett

FACEBOOK shareholder Sean Parker has denied having a huge "bust up" with the site’s co-founder and chief Mark Zuckerberg, in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard.

Parker, most famous for co-founding Napster and his early role in developing Facebook (brought to life by Justin Timberlake in the recent film The Social Network), was reported to have had a big fight with Zuckerberg last week outside a Hollywood club, has strenuously denied the clash.

Last week The New York Post reported that the two technology billionaires had come to blows outside a Hollywood club after rowing about Facebook’s new partnership with Spotify.

The Post’s anonymous sources claimed: “Sean [Parker] and Mark [Zuckerberg] had done the big Spotify launch and headed to ‘The Beverly’ [a Hollywood bar] to party. They spent a lot of money on alcohol, and as the night went on they got into an intense discussion, which turned into a loud argument as they left.”

“Sean [Parker] argued that all Spotify users should not be forced to sign up for a Facebook account, but Mark [Zuckerberg] wouldn’t budge. It was a full on screaming match outside the club, but stopped short at coming to blows. They then stormed off in different directions.”

Speaking at the annual Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Parker ridiculed the story and ironically blamed social networks for making it go viral.

“That story is amazing... I love this story because it shows the potential for one little minute irrelevant vastly incorrect rumour to spark this enormous explosion in press largely driven by social media,” he said. “I do end up generally being the victim of these platforms I had something to do with creating.

“It was wrong on so many accounts – we weren’t even at the place they claimed, they got the date wrong, they conflated many events into one event – the truth is Mark [Zuckerberg] and I are always discussing these things but we weren’t having a yelling match in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard.”

Parker, now also an investor in Spotify, stopped short of denying that he and Zuckerberg had debated about the merit of forcing all new Spotify members to have a Facebook account – a new rule which has upset many existing users of the digital music service.

However, he backed the tie-up saying: “It gives Spotify access to Facebook’s roughly 800 million users and it enables music to go massively viral,” he explained.

He said the Swedish music service, which recently launched in America, was doing a good job in trying to finish what Parker had started with Napster: the attempt to create a frictionless social music sharing service, not controlled by the traditional gatekeepers of the music industry.

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