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Sean Parker's Airtime weathers early turbulence

Speaking with AllThingsD, Parker discusses some of the hurdles his video chat site has faced since its launch, including executive departures and weak user numbers.

Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
2 min read
Airtime launched in June. Airtime

It may not come as a big surprise, but Sean Parker's Airtime isn't doing so well.

The amply funded video chat startup has faced a series of setbacks since its debut in June, including executive departures and weak uptake among users. So far, the site only has about 10,000 monthly active users. And the launch event itself, held in NYC, was a star-studded event hampered by glitches.

But Parker tells AllThingsD in an interview that the problems are all part of running a new company and Airtime will have new features that show big things are ahead for the site.

"We are iterating on our approach," Parker said, according to the AllThingsD report. "Airtime is finally getting around to some of the bigger ideas that got me interested in this project in the first place."

Among the new features is "Reactions," an option that will allow users to post Webcam videos of themselves watching Internet videos, the report said. The offering, which launches later this week, lets friends sync up while watching the original video, so the viewers can see each other responding to what's happening on screen, like a team kicking a winning goal.

Still, Airtime's hurdles are pretty significant.

Eric Feng, who joined Airtime after it purchased his company, Erly, in March, will be leaving the company soon. He's credited with bringing in his own team to overhaul the site, and there are worries the product team will leave with him, according to AllThingsD.

And Shawn Fanning, Parker's Napster co-founder, no longer has a day-to-day role at Airtime. He served as CEO of the startup while Parker was focusing on Spotify. Fanning's lesser role raises concerns about Parker's leadership, AllThingD said, as Parker has typically done well when working alongside a "visionary entrepreneur," such as Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg.

In addition, Parker already has a busy schedule outside Airtime, serving on six company boards, among other roles.

But he maintains that Airtime, which Parker now describes as a next-generation Skype, will be "transforming communications."

"It's only 12 weeks from launch," he said. "I've only been running the company since March."