SAN JOSE, Calif. — A young programmer and University of Utah dropout whose software startup, Nullsoft, was gobbled up by America Online — and then caused numerous headaches for its corporate parent — plans to resign after his latest piece of rebel code was pulled from the Internet.
Justin Frankel, 24, announced his intentions late Monday, less than a week after a file-sharing program called Waste was posted and then pulled from the Nullsoft site.
"The company controls the most effective means of self-expression I have," he said in his Web log. "This is unacceptable to me as an individual, therefore I must leav (sic). I don't know when it will be, but I'm not going to last much longer."
Attempts to reach Frankel by telephone were not successful. An AOL spokeswoman declined to comment.
AOL paid $86 million for Nullsoft in 1999. At the time, the San Francisco company was best known for creating a music player called Winamp.
Despite the new corporate ownership, Nullsoft's team of programmers managed to maintain a freestyle hacker culture.
In March 2000, Nullsoft briefly posted a decentralized file-sharing program called Gnutella before it was axed by AOL. But the genie had been set free, and other developers refined the code to create post-Napster file-sharing programs.
Nullsoft's latest creation was a file-sharing program that allowed users to set up secure networks of no more than 50 people.
Within hours of its posting, Waste was deleted. In its place was a notice that said the program had been posted without Nullsoft's permission.
"If you downloaded or otherwise obtained a copy of the software, you acquired no lawful rights to the software and must destroy any and all copies of the software, including by deleting it from your computer," the statement said. "Any license that you may believe you acquired with the software is void, revoked and terminated."
Frankel, who is called "Our Benevolent Dictator" on the Nullsoft site, founded the company in 1998 after dropping out of the U.