Maybe you remember him from those long-ago Napster days. Or perhaps the first time you heard the name Sean Parker was in the film The Social Network, which showed the first president of Facebook as a schmoozing party boy opportunist, a depiction the real-life Parker strongly objected. But with the most glamorous night in journalism about to unfold, you now might be wondering, why is Sean Parker at the White House Correspondents Dinner?
Parker is at the White House Correspondents Dinner because he was invited as a guest of The Huffington Post. This year, rather than seat Hollywood's elite at the news site's table, Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington decided to go digital, filling her stable with social stars. There's beauty guru Bethany Mota and Snapchat phenom Jerome Jarre. That "social network" appears to have also extended to Parker.
Maybe the better question then is what has Parker been doing to warrant an invitation. From Napster to Facebook, Parker has been doing what he does best: identifying and investing in new talent. Forbes puts Parker's net worth at $2.7 billion, much of which came from Facebook big-bucks IPO in 2012. As a managing partner at venture capital firm Founders Fund, Parker has led multimillion-dollar investments in Spotify and a handful of other tech startups.
Then, Parker set his sights on government policy. In April 2014, he put his own personal money into Brigade Media whose mission is to boost voter engagement and help the American democracy. The specifics are still hazy (it's probably safe to expect some kind of tech and politics mix), but Brigade Media is a significant departure from Parker's typical cache of companies. His civic goals then continued with the launch of the Economic Innovation Group, a bipartisan think tank that brings together entrepreneurs, investors, economic advisers, and policymakers to help startups and small businesses and promote economic growth, according to Politico.
Now in a position to possibly influence public policy, Parker has come a long way from taking on record labels and fighting file-sharing laws. That makes his invite to the White House Correspondents Dinner more than a social call.
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