LOS ANGELES — Sean Parker is in a partying mood. He has invited 700 of his closest friends to his $55 million home on this starlit evening to celebrate the launch of his latest project, which he describes as the most important thing he has done in his 36 years.
It’s bigger than Napster, which upended the music industry, he says. More life-changing than Facebook — which now has more than 1 billion users.
On the grounds of the billionaire’s mansion, which glows with several thousand white candles and is decorated with elaborate arrangements of succulents, it is as if the world has been turned upside down. Tom Hanks, Keira Knightly, Katie Couric and Bradley Cooper are milling about. California Gov. Jerry Brown makes a cameo appearance. Lady Gaga and Katy Perry are here, too.
But the guests of honor, the people everyone is lining up to take selfies with, are cancer researchers sporting bow ties.
Tonight, Hanks says, is about “the science geeks and nerds and doctors, the people who live their lives under hideous fluorescent lighting.”
Parker has personally recruited many of the scores of researchers in the crowd at the black-tie affair to join him in a wildly ambitious $250 million philanthropic effort to rid the world of the devastating disease. His plan involves bringing together a critical mass of scientists in the red-hot area of immunotherapy and pointing them in the direction of the most promising targets in the hope that, together, they can move research along faster than by working alone.