Ex-CEO says News Corporation's demand for instant profits ruined MySpace

Nov 19, 2013

In an interview with the British broadsheet newspaper, 'The Daily Telegraph', Chris DeWolfe, onetime CEO of MySpace, says that New International simply didn't understand the nature of the social networking beast and thus effectively destroyed MySpace in a heedless dash to make a quick buck.

During the interview the former CEO says that Murdoch "made a big blunder in announcing our potential revenues. He went to the Street and said, 'MySpace will do US$1 billion of revenue and $250 million in profit'". In fact Facebook actually lost $250 million and had zero revenues. Mr. DeWolfe added "They [News Corp] were building user experience while we were forced to muck up ours".

After failing to make quick short-term profits, Mr Murdoch publicly turned against his acquisition Twittering about "Crappy MySpace" whereas the fact of the matter is that neither he nor his acolytes had any understanding of the dynamics of social media businesses. MySpace was sold less than eighteen months later for the knock-down price of $30 million.

It was bought by Specific Media LLC, the vehicle for a consortium of interests headed by the singer Justin Timberlake. He and colleagues had rather more understanding of social media than the (then) late-septagenatrain Australian media mogul and now, thanks to real market knowledge and long-term determination, the redesigned, revivified and relaunched MySpace is a big success and worth $120 billion.

That's not to say that the 'new' MySpace is not subject to criticism in many areas ranging from online privacy, child safety and censorship. Users and analysts also say it is riddled with fake profiles and does not respond to requests to remove them.

And, to make matters worse, in June this year MySpace causes an awful kerfuffle when it deleted masses of content and discontinued "Classic MySpace" without consulting any of its loyal users who had persevered and stayed with the company throughout its travails.

MySpace says the user blogs haven't been deleted but merely 'misplaced' somewhere in the ether where the company's virtual kerfuffle hounds have been let off the leash and are are tracking them down. No word yet though as to how many (if any) have been retrieved.

But back to Mr. Murdoch. According to Mr. DeWolfe, News Corp is far from the free-booting, up-and-at-'em open organisation most people might expect it to be. It is he says thoroughly and stultifyingly bureaucratic and "mired in red tape".

Chris DeWolfe adds that News Corp always had its eye on an immediate boost to the corporate bottom line and therefore wouldn't allow MySpace to do what YouTube had done; run at a loss for years whilst it concentrated on building an audience.

DeWolfe told the Daily Telegraph, “They [YouTube] didn’t have any ads at all back then because they wanted to let it run, let it grow. We had the second largest video site in the world after YouTube, but we had ads in front of every single video. Whenever I asked to reduce them, six months of analysis needed to be done on how much revenue we would lose.”

In the end Rupert Murdoch admitted that his company had “screwed up MySpace in every way possible” and had learned some “valuable, expensive lessons”from the experience.

Mr Murdoch, now 82 and in the throes of divorcing his most recent (3rd.) spouse, Wendi Deng, had little feeling for social media when he bought MySpace. Despite his spasmodic Twitters in recent months there is little evidence to show he is any more au fait with the phenomenon now.

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