Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fire Sale: MySpace is Sold to California Ad Network for $35 Million

The heart of rock & roll is still beating, but does MySpace still have a pulse? Its new owner hopes to resuscitate the once-dominant social-media site.

Oh, how the (formerly) mighty have fallen. After years of decline and several leaders at the helm, MySpace has finally been sold at deep discount like a one-hit wonder CD in the cut-out bin. It was announced Wednesday that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. will sell MySpace to California advertising network Specific Media for a mere $35 million.

And speaking of 35 million, that's how many people visited MySpace in May, less than half of its highest total, which came in October 2008.) But the selling price is far below what News Corp. had hoped to attract for MySpace (it was looking for $100 million), and it's minuscule compared to the $580 million that the media conglomerate paid for MySpace back in 2005.

Irvine-based Specific Media (which has only been in business since 1999) is hoping to turn MySpace around by focusing on its former strength as a portal for musicians and actors and their fans.To add some celebrity juice to that effort, Specific has brought in none other than pop star Justin Timberlake as a minority investor. (Is it just a coincidence that JT played Napster and Facebook entrepreneur Sean Parker in the movie "The Social Network"?)

Specific says that Timberlake will "play a major role in the creative direction of Myspace," according to an L.A. Times article. News Corp. will retain a small stake in MySpace, the article says.

So will Specific's MySpace strategy succeed where others have failed? It's hard to say. I've enjoyed using MySpace as a way to find new music (though not to connect with "buddies," etc.), so I'll be looking in on the retooled version.

It's a sad ending for MySpace, which was once the hottest social-media website before it got lapped by Facebook. The good news for MySpace is that it's fallen so far from its heights that there's nowhere to go but up.

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