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Salon: Come on, Eileen [Napster CEO Q&A]

May 08, 2000, 14:39 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Damien Cave)

"With burgundy-tinted hair, a love of club music and a son whom she tends to mention, regardless of the conversation topic, Eileen Richardson isn't a typical CEO. But Napster isn't a typical company. Eight months ago, it didn't exist; now it's becoming a contender for most rapidly adopted software in Internet history."

"It's also one of the most beleaguered. By offering a free, downloadable application that lets users temporarily turn their computers into servers for the purpose of swapping MP3 files, Napster has attracted lawsuits like the Beatles attracted fans. The Recording Industry of America filed suit late last year, Dr. Dre tacked on another case last month and just last week Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich appeared at the company's offices in San Mateo, Calif., to drop off an amendment to the band's own lawsuit."

"Richardson has tended to take this all in stride. She was an early investor in Napster and became CEO in September, only a few months after 19-year-old Northeastern University student Shawn Fanning developed the program. After 10 years in the world of venture capital, Richardson seems happy to be leading her own band. She has good reason: A new version of Napster is in its final-testing phase, the company is hiring like mad and artists like Chuck D. and Limp Bizkit have come out in Napster's defense. But the company is far from clear of its troubles. How is she handling the heat?"

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