If you thought MySpace was on life support before, then you might as well be zipping up the body bag after today's announcement. In a hardly unexpected email from MySpace CEO Mike Jones to company employees (which some how still numbers around 500), Jones announced that MySpace had been sold by News Corporation to internet advertising firm Specific Media. The sale price is being reported as $35 million, substantially lower than the $580 million the parent company of Fox News and the New York Post paid to acquire MySpace just five years ago.
It's no secret that News Corp. has been trying to sell MySpace, though they had been claiming a sale would be in the range of $100 million, still lower than the $580 it paid for MySpace, but significantly more than the $35 million they are getting from Specific Media. MySpace has been a major money sink for News Corp the past several years, so much so that it was deemed more economical to cut ties than to salvage the damaged brand.
Two main reasons can be attributed to MySpace's swift fall from glory. First, the arrival of Facebook to the social media scene caught MySpace off guard. Facebook was clean in it's design, shut down spam from it's beginnings, and was originally geared toward college-aged users not interested in trading "follows for follows". And second, the second News Corp. purchased MySpace it treated it like one massive leads list rather than a social community, neglecting the user base that made it so valuable in the first place.
While both did play a role in MySpace's quick demise, the first reason is definitely the major one. Everything that MySpace did wrong (crappy, cluttered design that took forever to load; branding toward immature, no-income, pre-teens; letting spammers run wild), Facebook did right, and that's why users left in masses for Facebook. Newsflash – when you're a supposed competitor to Facebook, yet you allow users to log in to your site using Facebook Connect, you've failed.
Shockingly MySpace is still the 85th ranked website in the world according to Alexa, which is quite incredulous to me. I guess all the Justin Bieber fans needed somewhere to go after losing their grasp on Twitter. Though after being ranked in the top 10 as recent as two years ago, it's been quite the tumble for MySpace. I guess the old adage is true – the larger you are, the harder you fall. Of course, whenever the folks that own Fox News fail (and epically at that), I can only have one response: