On Wednesday the 29th of June, Specific Media Inc. concluded a deal to buy MySpace for a mere $35 million dollars from News Corp.
The deal included $35million dollars and 5% stake in Specific Media shares. This is a drop in the ocean compared to the $580 million dollars News Corp paid for MySpace in 2006. Another interesting fact about this fire sale is the fact that Justin Timberlake is also involved in the deal. What JT knows about running a social network is still a mystery to everyone. Maybe all the time on the set of “The Social Network” taught him a thing or two about running a “real” social networking website. We can only sit back and wait for the outcome of this deal. In my opinion this is just another bad deal that might put the final nail in MySpace’s coffin.
People are quick to say Facebook was what brought about the demise of MySpace but I disagree. Facebook did not in any way start out to be a competitor or a MySpace killer. I am tempted to say that as at the time Facebook went online Zukerberg did not consider MySpace a threat.
Assumptions aside, two things contributed immensely to the death of Myspace:
1: MONEY: The First Version of MySpace was online sometime in August 2003 and only 3 years later media mogul Rupert Murdoch flashed $580 million big ones in the face of MySpace developers. It’s interesting however to note that Murdoch, prior to purchasing MySpace has had little or nothing to do with social media, albeit he was head honcho at News Corp. So how MySpace developers decided going into business with a 70+ year old man still baffles me. Credit must however be giving to Murdoch/News Corp move to buy MySpace as this is the very reason why social media is seen as big business today.
Just a few months after purchasing MySpace Murdoch said on the street that MySpace revenue would generate revenue of over $1billion dollars. This was probably when the trouble started. The pressure was on, and engineers and the entire MySpace team were working tirelessly to make sure this target was met. In retrospect, Murdoch really didn’t speak out of turn because at the time, MySpace was doing insane numbers and they seemed unstoppable.
Conspiracy theorists; me included, have come up with a reason why Murdoch was interested in MySpace in the first place. Long before the Myspace deal, Murdoch had a string of unsuccessful Internet investments. Delphi: An internet service provider and iguide. All failed. Why then did he decide to buy MySpace? I think the reason was MySpace user data base. That user data would have been a useful tool in News Corp’s marketing and now that he’s gotten what he wanted out of MySpace, it’s no longer useful.
P.S I’m just saying!! Don’t quote me o! I don’t want to be smuggled into the back of a black limo with a bag over my head!
GOOGLE: Whilst Facebook was fine tuning its code, user platform and all other geekness that makes a site run, MySpace was looking for more money. Enter Google; The Google boys decided to sign a $900 million dollar sole adverting deal with MySpace, who in all sense of the word was still a “startup” at the time. This in itself is the very reason why your MySpace pages loaded so slowly and was always having some “unexpected error”
The deal required a certain number of MySpace user page visits for Murdoch and his team to receive the agreed $300 million dollars every year for the next 3 years. Hence the introduction of unnecessary pages and banners. Notice how you have to click and click and click just to send a message? So for every page you load it’s a new ad and another and another. This deal prevented developers from fine tuning the site and getting rid of unnecessary pages for fear of losing revenue. All this while Facebook was gaining ground. By 2009 Facebook had grown to 77 million users while MySpace dropped to 68 million. The rest they say is history
P.S: when your favorite site suddenly adds an unwanted page just so you listen to music, or watch a video, something you did right there on the home page before, you know why *cough* notjustok *cough*
Giving users the ability to create and design their own home pages with wallpapers, banners, music and video also contributed to the demise of Myspace. These users know little or nothing about code. They go on some website saying free MySpace layouts and copy the code on there and load it on to Myspace servers and add a video and music that plays as soon as you visit their page. Whilst all this is going on google is making sure you have some ad flashing on at least 3 spots on your screen.
The fact that MySpace did not keep up with growing trends in social networking also did not help matters. Case in point: Facebook newsfeed. It would take MySpace 2 years to implement that on their website and another 1year or there about to allow 3rd party developers to create applications for their website. Which is a moot point as most of the applications have closed shop on MySpace.
In my opinion MySpace is a really bad investment and I don’t see the site recovering from this. If they try rebranding as a music focused social network. I think the combination of YouTube and Twitter would be hard to beat as artistes can interact with their fans and link to their songs on YouTube. So what exactly would be their game plan? Give Facebook a run for its money? LOL!
So the question remains: Are all social networking sites “Here today, Gone tomorrow?” Absolutely not! Facebook is doing a good job so far. They have avoided every mistake MySpace made and more and they are constantly keeping up with new ideas and keeping their platform very open. Hence the seemingly “extra friendly” relationship with twitter; the latter which seems to be the man around town these days. Facebook has kept things simple save for a few weird and annoying changes. They are constantly refining their user interface and making the site easier to use and faster to load.
As it is with any business, running a successful social network is all about sticking to the reason why you were so popular in the first place, letting your business grow gradually and not chasing big money so soon. This way you have the opportunity to make your mistakes on a smaller scale and learn from them.
P.S: Google just launched its very own social network; Google+. Invites are scarce though. Remember the original Gmail invites? Something like that. Would keep you posted.