Media mogul and human raisin Rupert Murdoch has had a few good months. His popular TV network Fox News has enjoyed 100 months of being the most-watched news channel, The Wall Street Journal has released a New York Metro section to compete with The New York Times on its home turf, and the release of the iPad has given him an opportunity to collect more revenue from online content.
But what about that site NewsCorp owns? Remember? That social networking site that everyone used to use before Facebook showed up?
MySpace. Nothing? Okay, then.
Well, the fact that no one uses it anymore is proving to be a slight dent in NewsCorp’s otherwise successful online ventures. And now the big Rupe is coming clean about their little goof.
News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch has admitted to “mistakes” with MySpace, after the division which houses the social network posted a loss of $150 million.
This comes on the heels of the resignation of MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta in February. Van Natta was Murdoch’s man at MySpace, and under his leadership MySpace eliminated the parts of their website they perceived as unnecessary to their “focus on music and entertainment.”
Murdoch was incredibly confident about buying MySpace back in 2005, and two years ago, Mashable’s Peter Ostrow called the acquisition the “biggest steal in internet history.” I think it’s safe to say that MySpace was the first big social networking site.
It’s hard to imagine now, but when Facebook debuted, people laughed at said it didn’t have a chance. In fact, here’s Rupert Murdoch’s comments at NewsCorp’s Earnings Call back in September 2007:
Obviously MySpace’s most talked about competitor is Facebook. While it has grown rapidly over the past several months, it is still only 45% of MySpace in terms of the unique users and about 33% in terms of page view.
Every MySpace unique user spends over three hours monthly on the site. Competitors are not cannibalizing our audience. For instance, according to Nielsen Online, in the U.S. 74% of Facebook’s users are also active on MySpace.
Most importantly, the two platforms are very different in the user experience. MySpace is a place for self-expression, where users’ MySpace pages become their home on the Internet. It is where they discover people, content, and culture — where they share information, communicate, and consume. Facebook, on the other hand, tends to be a web utility, similar to a phonebook.
And let’s compare that to what Murdoch said just a few days ago about MySpace:
“We’ve got to admit that, in the last 3 or 4 years, we made some big mistakes.”
What’s the expression? Hindsight’s 20/20, Rupert.
That quote was taken from a tweet by PaidContent editor Robert Andrews. In fact, the more interesting quote provided is from NewsCorp COO Chase Carey.
“MySpace is a work in progress.”
So let me see if I’m understanding this correctly. MySpace, the social networking site that’s been around longer than Facebook and Twitter, is a “work in progress”? You, sir, have managed to blow my mind.
What’s ironic about the failings of MySpace is that NewsCorp is doing very well online in most other divisions. Take this little gem:
The New York Times might have a 160-year history of reporting on the city, but it doesn’t have one thing the Wall Street Journal does. That’s right, Foursquare badges. As part of its local launch, the Wall Street Journal has created three new badges for die-hard New Yorkers and Journal readers: The Banker Badge (for checking into the financial district three times), the Urban Adventurer badge (for hitting all five boroughs), and the Lunch Box badge (for twice checking into a restaurant reviewed by the WSJ’s Lunch Box column. Hopefully, the Lunch Box reviewer will be staying away from the Upper East Side. The WSJ is also adding tips to places in New York City with links to related articles.
That’s right. The Wall Street Journal is on FourSquare. If I may quote Shakespeare, “What the hell?”
But let’s not underestimate this. I mean, yes, FourSquare is a game, but that’s how you make money in this industry, by exploiting the entertainment value of news.
Sad, but true.