Gene Kan (September 6, 1976 — June 29, 2002) was a British-born Chinese American peer-to-peer file-sharing programmer who was among the first programmers to produce an open-source version of the file-sharing application that implemented the Gnutella protocol. Kan worked together with Spencer Kimball on the program called "gnubile" licensed under the GNU General Public License. Kan graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1997 with a major in electrical engineering and computer science,and was a member of the student club the eXperimental Computing Facility (XCF).
In June 2000, he formed a distributed search engine known as InfraSearch.com with Steve Waterhouse. Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen was an investor in the start-up. InfraSearch was purchased by Sun Microsystems on March 6, 2001 for $12.5M USD in Sun stock options. The acquisition became part of the JXTA project at Sun. Kan joined Sun as an employee, and continued to work with the technology.
Kan was relatively well known in internet circles for a testimony he gave in July 2000 at the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on "Intellectual Property in the Digital Age". Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, Sony CEO Fred Ehrlich, and others also gave testimony at the hearing.
On June 29, 2002, he committed suicide. The cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the head. Kan was 25 years old. Prior to taking his life, Kan updated an electronic copy of his resume hosted on a University of California, Berkeley server to read "Summary: Sad example of a human being. Specializing in failure." An independent documentary film was planned for Gene Kan after he died, but it never started production.
- Wired News: Quiet, Sad Death of Net Pioneer
- Time.com: The digital dozen
- MercuryNews.com:Life of highs and lows ends in suicide for Net visionary
- cNet News.com:Gnutella pioneer Gene Kan dies
- Yahoo links
- Jorge Nascimento Rodrigues; Paulo Buchinho (18 January 2001). "O "puto" do P2P: "Computação distribuída é uma área tecnológica excitante"" [The "kid" of P2P: "Distributed computing is an exciting area of technology"] (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on 2 February 2001. Spanish version