AfterDawn: Tech news

Justin Frankel resigns from AOL

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 26 Jan 2004 3:24

Justin Frankel resigns from AOL Justin Frankel, the founder of Nullsoft, company who developed the de facto MP3 player, WinAMP, has resigned from AOL, the parent company of the Nullsoft. Frankel, announced his resignation last Thursday via his online journal.
Frankel sold Nullsoft, the company he found, to AOL back in 1999 when the MP3 craze peaked and he was just 20 years old. He reportedly got over $100 million from the deal. One of the deal's requirements was that Frankel had to continue working for Nullsoft. Apparently the agreed time limit that he must work for AOL expired a while ago, but he agreed to continue working for AOL until the Nullsoft's latest media player, WinAMP 5, was finished. The product was launched in late December, 2003.

Despite selling his company to AOL and continuing to work for the media giant, Frankel didn't really get adjusted to the "corporate culture" and ran into problems with his bosses over the years. Most controversial clash happened in March, 2000 when Frankel released a P2P application called Gnutella without blessing from AOL. This was obviously a Bad Thing(tm) as AOL was just closing a deal to purchase TimeWarner, which also owned one of the world's largest record labels, Warner Music. The project was immediately shut down, but cat was already out of bag -- thousands and thousands of copies of the original client found their ways to other developers, who reverse-engineered the Gnutella protocol and developed the application further. Nowadays most of the smaller P2P vendors base their applications on variations of original Gnutella network.

Further trouble was seen in May, 2003 when Nullsoft developed a software called WASTE, which added a method for transferring securely files and messages over a trusted ring of peers using AOL Instant Messenger or AOL's ICQ IM tools. Just like the Gnutella project, WASTE was shut down immediately by AOL.

In an interview with, Frankel wrote: "I really had been putting it off long enough; it was just that time. ... Launching Winamp 5 was a big goal of mine for the last nine months, and having it out in the wild made it that much easier to move on."

Mr. Frankel has been one of the very few widely-recognized faces behind the digital music movement that got started back in 1996 when the first MP3 players and encoders were launched on Windows platform. WinAMP's first incarnations were widely used already in spring 1997 when the software was one of the very few MP3 players in the world to offer functionalities such as playlists and low CPU usage.

More information:

Justin Frankel's .plan

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