Tech visionary Sean Parker talks Uber, the problems at Twitter and where he’s heading next

Sean Parker’s part in the evolution of today’s digital world can hardly be underestimated. From his early career where he lit a fire under the traditional music industry with the launch of Napster, to his early, critical involvement with Facebook, Parker has his figure on the pulse of the tools which have shaped our modern age and when he talks, it’s always worth a listen.

One of his latest ventures is called The Screening Room and, according to entertainment bible Variety, it’s a company which “offers secure anti-piracy technology that will offer new releases in the home on the same day they hit theaters.”

In a wide-ranging interview with Bloomberg Business’s Emily Chang, Parker spoke about the companies making waves right now to what he views as the biggest threats to Twitter and Facebook. It’s always worth hearing how he sees the lay of the land.

When questioned on Facebook, Parker is still extremely upbeat. “I still see fifteen to twenty years of growth in Facebook. There are some really smart people there trying to figure out how to unlock that value, and that will only become clear over time.” Chang questioned Parker about what she thinks the next huge business for Facebook could be, citing examples such as Instagram, Whatsapp, Oculus Rift etc. Parker speculated that “the next big thing” could be in a market that is wholly outside of what Facebook does, for example “contact lenses that measure glucose” or “self-driving cars”, but he seemed to imply that Facebook should stick to it’s core mission which is fundamentally communication.

“Communication is the biggest market in the world. Communication cannot be undervalued. So there are a lot of other communication paradigms, and there a lot of other ways of communicating that Facebook could enable.” He went on to add that “Facebook is very good at understanding the core communication network apps that they should own. And are there more of those out there? Absolutely. There are enormous opportunities left in communication.”

The conversation naturally moved on to Twitter and a discussion of the troubles at Twitter which have seen the stock value plunge in recent months. “Twitter is a victim of their own success in so many ways. They are a company that—had it not been for the media’s infatuation with Twitter—Twitter never would have built an enormous user base. But that came at a cost. And the cost was the lack of deep, close-knit community between its users.”

Parker was full of praise for Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick. As that company faces legal hurdles in its rapid global expansion, Parker’s words should put investors at ease. “Travis hasn’t changed at all,” he said. “ He’s sort of the perfect CEO Of this company. He enjoys the conflict, he feeds off it and he’s very good at dealing with complex situations where he’s being attacked from all sides.” Parker summed it up by saying Kalanick “would thrive as a wartime leader.”

While Parker was expansive when speaking about many companies, he refused to be drawn into speculation around valuations. Asked if Uber is worth US$ 62-billion, he replied that it’s “hard to say.” He admits there is a disconnect ‘between private and public valuations. It’s not clear what any of these things are worth until the public markets value them. Because in the close knit private markets you can do certain things to engineer the valuation.”

Looking ahead, it seems like Parker has his eyes on the pharmaceutical industry, and getting drugs to market which may not have mass-impact, but may make the difference between life and death for a few hundred people. Smart medicine could be set for the kind of disruption that music lived through in the last decade.

You can watch the full interview on Bloomberg Live right here.



Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights. sign up

Welcome to Memeburn

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights.