The creators of the original Napster music-sharing site on Tuesday launched a new video service which allows people to chat online using their Facebook accounts.
The service called Airtime was launched by Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning along with a host of celebrities at a New York event.
The browser-based video chat allows users to share live video without downloading any programs, by using Facebook and a webcam.
“There’s something exciting about bringing spontaneity to the Internet,” said Parker.
“All of your interactions online are constrained by the people you already know. That wasn’t always the case. If it weren’t for the Internet, Fanning and I would have never become friends. As we move from a social graph to an interest graph, there are great possibilities for our world. That’s what we’re trying to tap into with Airtime.”
Entertainment stars including Jim Carrey, Alicia Keys, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Snoop Dogg helped demonstrate the features of Airtime.
“We look at Airtime as if it were a smart and engaging host,” said Fanning. “Airtime is a service that does everything it can to help you find the people that you should know, and then guide your conversations further. These are connections that wouldn’t be possifble in the real world.”
In addition to supporting seamless video chat with friends, Airtime connects users based on location and shared Facebook interests. Once connected, the users are anonymous until they decide to reveal themselves.
Napster was launched in 1999 as a peer-to-peer file-sharing service, becoming one of the most popular sites on the Web before it was shut down by the US courts in 2001, and eventually acquired by software firm Roxio.
Parker and Fanning later invested in other startups, Parker notably becoming an early stakeholder in Facebook.