So, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp managed to successfully offload MySpace yesterday for a reported, though not confirmed, $35 million. Some of you might remember MySpace. For those with shorter memories, let us remind you. It was shit. Ah you see, now you remember.
Although the specifics of the MySpace sale are not 100% clear, it is thought News Corp will get a small stake in the buyer, Specific Media, which counts a certain Justin Timberlake among its backers, as part of the deal.
It is not clear what the deal means for the separate MySpace Music business, which operates the streaming music element of the entertainment networking site, and in which the major labels have a stake. There was speculation earlier this week that it was MySpace’s music operations that were of most interest to buyers, which would presumably mean Specific would want the JV with the majors to continue. Whether MySpace Music’s licensing deals will be able to simply transfer over to the new owners isn’t known, either. Sometimes licensing deals expire with a change of ownership.
Although it still generated significant revenues in the first few years News Corp owned it, MySpace was already yesterday’s social media platform when the Murdoch-owned conglom bought the web firm for $580 million in 2005. In the following years users flocked away, traffic slumped and advertising revenue went into significant decline. MySpace, then, was a costly disaster for News Corp, though management there will be very happy to be rid of it all.
It will be interesting to see what Specific now has planned for MySpace – one assumes they are more interested in the web firm’s databases and content partnerships, and not its technology, that was universally terrible. The buyer’s CEO, Tim Vanderbook, said in a statement: “There are many synergies between our companies, as we are both focused on enhancing digital media experiences by fuelling connections with relevance and interest. We look forward to combining our platforms to drive the next generation of digital innovation”.
It’s thought Specific will reveal more specifics about its plans relatively quickly. The one thing we know for sure right away is that MySpace’s current CEO Mike Jones will step down once the transfer of ownership is complete. He confirmed this in an internal memo to staff published by TechCrunch yesterday afternoon. It’s thought the sale will also result in yet another headcount cull at the web company. A third of the firm’s remaining workforce was already due to be axed this week, and some reckon an additional 60% will be cut in the next month.
As a backer of Specific Media it is thought Justin Timberlake may offer advice to the company on what it does with its new toy. One hopes that when they get round to making a film about MySpace, Sean Parker will recruited to portray Timberblake’s role in the story.