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I remember when this came out 20 years ago. It was part of the whole wave of P2P filesharing programs that came out between 1999-2002: Napster, Gnutella, Kazaa, Audiogalaxy, etc. Amazing it's still going on.

BTW, for folks new in tech - it's amazing how influential that wave of programs were, even though they largely failed in the marketplace. Napster founder Sean Parker later became the first investor and first president of Facebook. Also involved in the wave (in a tangential way) was Mark Zuckerburg, whose Synapse Media Player got a $M+ buyout offer from Microsoft while he was still in high school. Uber founder Travis Kalanick's first two projects were Scour (a P2P filesharing app) and Red Swoosh (a P2P CDN). I met the AudioGalaxy founder while working on Google Search - he later went on to become one of the early Waymo engineers. The Kazaa founders later went on to found Skype, and we know where that went. Chord (an academic research project in distributed hash tables) was led by Robert Tappan Morris (originally famous for creating the Internet Worm of 1988), who then went on to co-found YCombinator, which owns the website you're reading this on. The gossip protocol invented & refined by Gnutella forms the basis for many cryptocurrency P2P protocols like Bitcoin & Ethereum.

There's probably several trillion dollars in market cap attributable to the intellectual descendants of a bunch of nerds who wanted to share stuff over the Internet and fuck over the RIAA, MPAA, and governments.

Kinda funny small-world stuff that Justin Frankel (Winamp + Gnutella) went onto AOL/TimeWarner and got into a feud with an exec he wrote a passive-aggressive blog post about without naming him. The exec was Chamath Palihapitiya.

Justin was and always will be a legend - he wrote an AOL Messsenger ad blocker and mp3 search plugin _while working at AOL_

And Gnutella, too. I still remember hurrying to download it when it came out because I knew that Justin worked at AOL/TimeWarner and it was going to get taken down on Monday as soon as the powers that be realized someone had written a piracy app. Luckily people had mirrored it, and eventually ended up reverse-engineering the protocol.

is there a link to the blog post? of Justin writing about unnamed exec

I tried finding it - even went into archive and couldn’t - sorry!

Probably proof that who you know is about as important as what you can do, if not more

The interesting thing is that most of those people weren't actually pals when working on P2P stuff, but they were all working on the same stuff. Zuckerburg and Parker didn't meet until Facebook was growing quickly. Scour/Red Swoosh, to my knowledge, had no major connection with the other projects.

I view it more like an instance of synchronicity, where a lot of bright young people looked at the world independently and decided that this was the space they wanted to be working on. And then when that space didn't pan out they went their separate ways, but the fact that they were bright & energetic meant that the successor projects became huge.

(I wonder if a similar effect explains the General Magic, Paypal, and Justin.TV mafias.)

Or more likely this is how synchronicity works: - we have 7B people on earth - at any point of time, all possible exciting among the moment are being worked on by someone - if something succeed, we look back and wonder at the synchronicity: how it is possible that 10 people worked independently on the same thing - they must have all have been guided by the superior intellect they had in common!


I’m sure there were great synchronicity of people working on squaring the circle in 18th century, and of people working on the philosopher stone earlier, except they were all misguided so we don’t talk about them.

When the internet became a thing for the general public, it was a bit of a no-brainer to try and do "X but on the internet" for all X. "Filesystem but on the internet", "diary but on the internet", "cash but on the internet", "tv but on the internet" etc.

More to add: Ludde, creator of µTorrent, is lead eng on Spotify.

They may not have made money, but they certainly succeded in getting marketshare. The main reason they dont now (other than napster being sued out of existence) is that bit torrent displaced them, and really that should be considered the same class of program

BitTorrent was also careful to demonstrate that it had substantial non-infringing uses. That's perhaps a lesson to folks who want to challenge the system: seem as innocuous as possible for as long as possible, until you become the system.

Google did this to very good effect: even when I was there the first time (~2010, over a decade after founding) they still had a sterling reputation in the press, while Netscape got crushed by their arrogance (and Microsoft, relatedly) less than 5 years after founding. Microsoft too, for that matter: through the 80s they were seen as an innocuous software publisher, because the hardware was where the money was, and then in the 90s people realized hardware was a commodity and Microsoft was a monopoly.

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