UF student develops legal peer-to-peer file-sharing program
Published: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 29, 2007 at 11:51 p.m.
The idea for the newest alternative to Napster sprouted from a University of Florida student's identity crisis.
Sam Tarantino, a UF junior and CEO of Escape Media Group, started school as a pre-med major. By his sophomore year, he was calling his parents to tell them he wanted to be a musician.
"That conversation didn't go too well," said Tarantino, 20.
A conversation that went better: The one early last year in which he told his parents that he and two classmates had figured out an alternative to online peer-to-peer file-sharing services like Napster.
His parents and other friends and family members contributed $70,000 to help the company get started. A year later, Escape Media is getting ready for a test release of Grooveshark, a file-sharing system that Tarantino said combines the legality of the new Napster with the selection and lack of regulations on the old one.
Napster started as an online peer-to-peer file-sharing service that let users share music with each other for free, leading to lawsuits from the recording industry and a subsequent shutdown of the service for copyright violations. Now, Napster is an online music store that requires users to buy music files from a central server rather than each others' collections, although other free peer-to-peer music services have picked up where the old Napster left off.
Tarantino developed his business plan in William Rossi's "principles of entrepreneurship" class about a year ago. Rossi said while Tarantino's first ideas for the company lacked feasibility, the student convinced him through revisions to his plans and through extensive market surveys that it was "not just a good idea, but an opportunity."
"As he became more and more invested in it, the plan became more and more solid," Rossi said. "I think he's got a tiger by the tail, quite frankly. I don't know if that means that he's going to be successful at it - he's a young guy without any experience at doing this kind of thing - but he's got a pretty solid plan right now."
Tarantino said the 18-employee company expects to release the service to a small group of test users on campus next month, and expects to roll out the formal version of the service this fall.
Tarantino is enrolled in two courses this semester, and said his position as CEO of a new company gives him an interesting perspective on business classes.
"In one class, it was like, 'These are the different kind of corporations you can set up,' " Tarantino said. "I was like, 'Oh, we've done that.' On the other hand, there have been other things I've read that have made me say, 'Oh, we probably should have known that a month ago.' "
Amy Reinink can be reached at (352) 374-5088 or email@example.com.
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