What’s wrong with MySpace?

Just about everything judging from recent events.

Co-president Jason Hirschhorn is on his bike just five months after being appointed with Mike Jones (who’s staying) to take over from Owen Van Natta.

And in just two weeks Google has to decide whether or not to renew its $900m search deal with the Murdoch-owned social network site. The Googlies and the Murdoch clan are not currently the best of chums as they squabble over access to News Corporation content.

Meanwhile MySpace is canvassing agencies in the US in what looks increasingly like a last ditch attempt to sprinkle some stardust on the bedraggled network as it plans a major relaunch. A new logo would obviously help.

News Corp paid $580m back in 2005 for MySpace, which looked quite clever at the time. But since then Facebook has roared ahead in the social network stakes, with five times MySpace’s 100m users.

On top of that $580m News Corp has poured countless millions in since and the mood music these days at News Corp is that expensive investments have to start paying their keep or they’re out. Even Murdoch’s beloved The Times in London is on report, with a wave of redundancies underway.

So why has MySpace turned out to be such a bummer?

Some would say it’s further proof that traditional media companies can’t run new media, pointing to Time Warner’s disastrous deal with AOL.

AOL, in turn, has also come a cropper with its $850m social network site Bebo which it’s about to unload to Criterion Capital for a piddly $10m. Bebo now has just 12m users.

It’s a marketing truism that to be first in a market is brilliant, to be second is OK and anywhere else is a problem. With social network sites it seems that first is indeed brilliant but anywhere else is a bummer. Unless, of course, you include Google-owned YouTube as a social network. Or indeed Twitter.

In fact the three are different products but undeniably complementary.

So does this mean that Facebook will dominate the social network world for ever?

Not necessarily as new things come along and just take over. Who knows what Apple’s Steve Jobs has in mind for his rapidly-growing worldwide iPhone and iPad community?

As for MySpace it’s simply being kept afloat by Murdoch largesse. And with News Corp planning to stump up about £9bn to buy the 61 per cent of Britain’s BSkyB it doesn’t already own the days of such largesse may be numbered.

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