It’s amazing how quickly things in life can change. Just a few short years ago social networking website MySpace was legendary and considered hip amongst the younger generation. Really, I remember a time when you would meet a person in line at a grocery store, and instead of swapping mobile numbers or even email addresses you would link up on MySpace. And the socially driven website wasn’t just a hit with run of the mill folk like you and me, either. Businesses, organizations, and bands from all areas flocked to MySpace as a mechanism to attract and keep up with fans and customers. Simply put, MySpace was the place to be on the Internet. Needless to say, the seemingly endless potential of the website was just too much for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation who swept up the then-popular website in July of 2005 for an eye-popping $580 million.
Over the years, though, MySpace has gone south in more ways than one. Even after working to redefine its public image and re-attract user, the company was forced to lay off about 500 employees earlier this year. Why? The company simply wasn’t generating enough capital to justify the investments that News Corporation was putting into it. This said, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the company sold off MySpace this week to Specific Media for a sum of $35 million. Sure, it’s a pretty chunk of change, but compared to what the site was worth just years ago I for one think it’s pretty pathetic.
Although, I can’t say that this isn’t something that I’ve been expecting for quite some time now. Towards the end of last year when I wrote about MySpace’s public image, I stated my opinion that News Corporation’s motives for maintaining MySpace were “similar to that of why people maintain cars; resale value.” I even went on to explicitly outline my thoughts that the company was “trying to plump up the once prestigious social networking site in order to sell it down the road”, something that they’ve now come to accomplish.
As sudden as this sale may seem, I personally feel that the site would have lost even more resale value each and every day that News Corp held onto it. After all, Facebook is getting its toes in the water in the music industry, arguably chopping at the one weak leg that MySpace still had to stand on. Combine this with the fact that Google has (finally) gotten a competitive social network off the ground, and it becomes even more apparent that MySpace wasn’t going anywhere and had little chance of rebounding.
So what will come of the once insanely popular social networking website? First and foremost I’m sure that we’ll see changes on the site in an attempt to overhaul it once again. But the real question is whether these changes will do any good. My opinion? Well, just look at the results of the past “overhauls” and I think the answer should present itself pretty clearly.
Right now MySpace has no edge. Nothing to set it apart from the other social networks out there. So it really wouldn’t surprise me if MySpace got tossed around different ownerships like a hot potato for years to come.