Justin Frankel (born 1978) is an American computer programmer best known for his work on the Winamp media player application and for inventing the gnutella peer-to-peer network. He's also the founder of Cockos Incorporated which creates music production and development software such as the REAPER digital audio workstation, the NINJAM collaborative music tool and the Jesusonic expandable effects processor. In 2002, he was named to the MIT Technology Review TR100 as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35.
Justin Frankel was born in 1978 and grew up in Sedona, Arizona. His father, Charles, was a lawyer, and his mother, Kathleen, worked as a rural mail carrier and in a health food store. Justin had an aptitude for computers at an early age. His skill eventually led him to running the student computer network of Verde Valley School he attended, as well as writing an email application for the students. He also wrote a keystroke logging program that could record keystrokes of people using those computers, though he claims to have not actually used it. While in high school he started using the moniker Nullsoft for his software.
After graduating high school with a 3.9 GPA, he attended the University of Utah in 1996, where he took Computer Science, but dropped out after two quarters. A few months later, he released the first version of Winamp under his newly formed company's name Nullsoft. By 1998, more than fifteen million people had downloaded the program. Since many people had sent in the $10 donation suggested in return for using the program, Frankel earned tens of thousands of dollars a month..
Frankel, along with Tom Pepper (who played a big part of the Winamp development and distribution), later completed SHOUTcast, which allowed ordinary users with an Internet connection to broadcast, or "stream", audio over the Internet. He also created the Advanced Visualization Studio, a plugin for Winamp which enabled users to create their own music visualizations in real-time, without any programming knowledge required.
In June 1999 AOL simultaneously acquired Nullsoft and Spinner.com in a combined purchase worth approximately $400 million. In a July 21, 1999 SEC S-3 filing by AOL, the transaction was recorded as a payment of 2,863,053 shares of AOL common stock to the 54 stockholders in the two companies being acquired. On July 20, 1999, the last reported sale price for AOL common stock was $113.1875 per share. Frankel's stake of 522,661 shares in the acquisition was worth approximately $59 million.