Business News Digital Top Stories

New MySpace owners speak

By | Published on Friday 1 July 2011


The boss of the advertising company that this week bought MySpace for the bargain basement price of $35 million (bargain compared to what News Corp paid for it in 2005) has been speaking to Billboard about why exactly he has shelled out for a flagging website most people have already written off.

As expected, it is audience and content that Specific Media CEO Tim Vanderhook is interested in, rather than the technology that powers the MySpace platform.

He told the US trade mag that his company decided last year that it wanted to expand from being a successful advertising agency into the content business, and that MySpace brings with it great content partnerships – including licensing deals with most of the music companies (which will stay in tact despite the change of ownership, he added) – as well as a sizable user base.

Vanderhook reckons MySpace still gets 70 million unique users visiting it each month, while his colleague, International MD Colin Petrie Norris, told New Media Age the site still had four million “faithful subscribers” in the UK alone. Music will still be key to MySpace, though Vanderhook said the site wouldn’t become an exclusively music-based service. What exactly will happen should be made clear in a couple of months, Norris added.

But what about this Justin Timberlake being the creative lead thing? I think we all assumed the owners of Specific were long-term friends of the pop-star-come-actor and that’s how he came to be a backer of and advisor to their business.

But no, it seems that once Specific decided it was going to buy MySpace the team there had a brainstorm about which c’leb they wanted to front the business, and Justin Timberlake topped their list. And then they managed to get a meeting with him. And he signed up. It’s a crazy, crazy world.

Vanderhook told Billboard: “When we got in front of him and told him what our vision was and strategy was going to be, he got really excited. I think we touched on one of his passion points; to be able to drive a community where artists could be discovered and share their talent. He’s got a big passion for that and I think we struck a chord”.

As for the Timberlake’s role, Vanderhook added: “Justin is going to be the creative force behind MySpace and will help us drive the strategy of what the tools need to be for artists and what the community should look like. I think any time you put the development of the product in someone’s hands as talented as he is, I think it’s a pretty good bet. Justin will have an office at the MySpace headquarters. He’ll have a staff of about a half dozen people working on his behalf executing his ideas. Of course he’s a busy guy with multiple careers, but when his time is open he’ll be there to do things himself”.

When Justin does go into work, he won’t be going into an overly crowded office. According to the Wall Street Journal, MySpace laid off about half of its remaining 450 employees this week alongside the sale announcement, and further cuts could still follow. Just two years ago the web firm somehow employed 1400 people around the world.