Being head honcho of a start-up has rarely been described as "easy."
Sean Parker, former hacker and Silicon Valley legend, described his own turbulent business ventures recently to AllThingsD: “Running a start-up is like eating glass. You just start to like the taste of your own blood.”
While investors may not always be aware of the high risks and grim reality involved in backing an idea, recent figures suggests that times are indeed tough in startup land. About three out of four venture-backed firms fail to deliver projected returns, according to research by Harvard Business School lecturer Shikhar Ghosh.
So why does Parker perpetually find himself attempting to create the next hot startup? Perhaps there are some clues on the billionaire investor and entrepreneur's Facebook page. "…I suffer from the delusion that every product of my imagination is not only possible, but always on the cusp of becoming real," Parker writes in the "About" section of his profile.
According to Forbes, Parker was only 19 years old when he founded Napster, the music sharing site responsible for turning the record industry on its head. At 24, he was was president of social networking giant Facebook. Now 32 years old, Parker is tied to several notable projects including much-loved music-streaming service Spotify.
And yet one of Parker's latest ventures, Airtime, has no doubt given him some serious trouble. A video chat app accessible by syncing Facebook profiles to the platform, Airtime has flatlined at 10,000 monthly active users since mid September, per AppData's statistics. The start-up was meant to connect friends, or give users the option of participating in randomized video conversation -- but the app hasn't quite lived up to its original hype. According to Airtime's CrunchBase profile, the company accumulated $33.5 million in funding. For all the money invested in the startup, the several thousand active users hardly seems successful.
But it was Parker who called out angel investors in Silicon Valley last year when he told CNET that these backers were "making tons of investments often in companies that aren't fully baked--either the team isn't fully baked or the product isn't fully baked or there's no conceivable revenue model." According to Parker, the Valley as a whole will face some rough times ahead.
His own company isn't only plagued by a dwindling growth rate, but Airtime seems also to be suffering from internal drama. Both CTO Eric Feng and co-founder Shawn Fanning are allegedly backing away from the venture, Business Insider reports.
“Now is the most toxic time ever in Silicon Valley,” Parker recently explained to AllThingsD, suggesting that companies are being created simply to be bought out. Last year, he also told CNET there was a seemingly increased "sense of entitlement" in the Valley as more and more people worked "for a big company for a while," made a hefty sum of money, and then assumed it was possible to create a profitable start-up.
Being bought out dosen't seem to be Parker's projected plan -- just yet. According to Betabeat, Airtime is releasing several updates in the near feature, including a "Reactions" feature that will allow users to record their responses to YouTube videos, which will then play alongside the clip.
What are your thoughts on Airtime and the startup culture in Silicon Valley? What do think about Sean Parker's attitude towards this culture? Sound off in the comments section below, or tweets us at [@HuffPostTech].
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