Todd Shaffer: Former RNS Member is Working at Amazon Today

Piracy has long plagued the music industry, causing significant concerns about revenue loss and intellectual property rights. Paramount+’s documentary series ‘How Music Got Free’ delves into the changing nature of music piracy in the late 90s and early 2000s when broadband internet became commonplace. The series features individuals like Todd Shaffer (referred to as Shaffer in the production), who, as young kids, were at the center of groups that made internet piracy a real threat. He provides valuable insights into the inner workings of the piracy phenomenon, explaining what drove it and his role within it. His honest recollections contribute significantly to the engaging discourse of the series, making his input especially valuable.

Todd Shaffer Quit RNS Before it Was Too Late

Todd Shaffer was living in the city of Earleton in Alachua County, Florida when he first got the chance to access a computer. He shared that one of his close friends acquired one, which opened the world to him. As a teenager in the 90s, when he became active on IRC (Internet Relay Chat), it was a transformative experience. He could converse with someone living in Australia, and it felt like the world was at his fingertips for a child who had not had many opportunities to travel. This newfound connectivity and exposure significantly shaped his perspective and involvement in the burgeoning world of internet piracy.

He also shared how the chatrooms operated primarily on anonymity. He chose “Al Capone” as his username, inspired by the infamous gangster known for his dominance and notoriety. Todd quickly got introduced to the Warez scene, where pirated software and media were distributed. When the software for shrinking files became available, making bulk music sharing easy and quick, he became heavily involved with Rabid Neurosis (RNS), a leading online music piracy group at the time.

Todd shared that his involvement in piracy was never intended as an attack on artists or an attempt to take their money away. He explained that he was a child who didn’t know better and was such a big fan of these music artists that listening to them at any cost seemed like the only option. Todd described himself as a young and enthusiastic fan expressing his love for the people he admired, even though he now recognizes that it was an odd way of showing that love.

RNS and other online piracy groups released music records months before their scheduled release dates. This provoked a strong response from the music industry, leading to numerous individual lawsuits and an FBI investigation into the widespread copyright infringement. Todd had left the group and disassociated from it before RNS was shut down on January 19, 2007, and he was never charged with any crimes. However, some of the other individuals involved were arrested and charged with conspiracy, and some were even convicted and spent a few months in jail.

Where is Todd Shaffer Now?

Todd Shaffer followed his interests and built a successful career in the technical field. Until 2007, he worked as a Business Developer and Web Engineer at O&P Digital Technologies, ACG, and KVR Solutions. In 2008, he became the Vice President of Technology at N Group and settled in New York. In 2011, he worked as an Integration Services Manager at Task Stream and later worked with Nimbo, VDX, and Presidio. At the last two firms, he enhanced his skills as a cloud strategist.

Image Credit: Todd Shaffer/LinkedIn

In 2014, Todd joined Microsoft, where he had the opportunity to enhance his Azure, Cloud, and Virtual Technology skills. He remained with the company until 2019, participating in numerous panel discussions and offering valuable insights on business continuity and disaster recovery solutions. As part of the specialist program, Todd traveled to various parts of the country, including Chicago, Philadelphia, and Orlando. These experiences allowed him to build connections that significantly benefited the next phase of his journey.

In 2017, Todd started his venture called Cloud Strategy Advisors, which helps firms of all sizes with cloud adoption. The company continues to do very well, and Todd’s industry insights are highly valued. In 2019, he joined Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a Senior Account Manager, and since then, he has been promoted three times. He is currently a Senior Specialist in Next Gen Developer Experience and Modern Apps, focusing on building modern applications with GenAI. Additionally, since 2015, he has been an Advisory Board Member at BWF Strategy, a platform for networking senior executives.

Todd holds several licenses and certificates, including Cloud Practitioner and Solutions Architect Associate. He is also a member of the Cloud Security Alliance, an organization dedicated to facilitating and improving secure cloud computing environments. Now settled in New York, he considers the city his home. He focuses on helping small businesses leverage serverless technology and event-driven architectures. Preferring to keep his personal life private, Todd has not spoken about it publicly.

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