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MySpace Failure: What Happened To Myspace?

In the history of the internet, there are a few names that stand out as pioneers in the world of social media. MySpace was undoubtedly one of these trailblazers. Launched in January 2004, it quickly rose to become the world's leading social media platform, but just as swiftly, it flamed out. In this article, we will take you through the journey of MySpace, from its meteoric rise to its precipitous fall, highlighting the key factors that led to its downfall.

  • MySpace's Origin: MySpace started in the United States on August 1, 2003.

  • Global Impact: It was the first social network to go worldwide and influenced technology, pop culture, and music.

  • News Corp's Purchase: News Corporation bought MySpace in July 2005 for $580 million.

  • Peak Popularity: By June 2006, it became the most visited website in the United States, making $800 million in revenue in 2008.

  • Competition with Facebook: MySpace and Facebook both had 115 million monthly visitors at their height in April 2008, but Facebook ultimately overtook MySpace.

  • Decline: Facebook surpassed MySpace in the number of unique U.S. visitors in May 2009, and MySpace's user numbers dropped, hitting only seven million by 2019.

  • Acquisition by Specific Media and Justin Timberlake: In June 2011, it was bought for about $35 million by Specific Media Group and Justin Timberlake.

  • Time Inc.'s Ownership: On February 11, 2016, Time Inc. acquired MySpace and its parent company for $87 million.

  • Meredith Corporation: Time Inc. was bought by Meredith Corporation on January 31, 2018.

  • Sold to Viant Technology LLC: Finally, on November 4, 2019, Meredith handed over MySpace and its original holding company, Viant Technology Holding Inc., to Viant Technology LLC.

MySpace received 3.3 million visits in August 2023, according to Semrush. This represents a decrease of 46% from July 2023, and continues a trend of declining popularity for the social networking site.

MySpace: The Beginning

MySpace was founded in August 2003 by Brad Greenspan, Chris DeWolfe, and Tom Anderson. Chris DeWolfe, who had previously run a marketing agency, played a pivotal role in its inception. The platform gained momentum quickly, especially after recruiting influencers and users who had been removed from rival platform Friendster.

By November of the same year, MySpace had amassed over five million users. Its explosive growth attracted the attention of media giant News Corp, which acquired it for a staggering $580 million in 2005. Under new ownership, MySpace continued to flourish. It overtook Google and Yahoo as the most-visited website in the United States, with 60 out of its 90 million users hailing from the U.S. MySpace also expanded its reach by establishing offices in countries like the United Kingdom and Germany.

Google Deal and Beyond

In August, MySpace struck a massive advertising deal with Google, securing $900 million in exchange for exclusive web search results and sponsored links on the platform. It seemed like MySpace was on an unstoppable trajectory. The platform diversified its offerings by launching MySpace TV, a YouTube competitor.

What happened to Myspace?

Despite its early success, MySpace's decline began when a new contender entered the scene: Facebook.

Facebook's user-friendly design, real-name policy, and introduction of the news feed in 2006 attracted users away from MySpace. Twitter also began to attract users after its launch in 2006.

To counter this exodus, MySpace introduced its developer platform, similar to Facebook's F8. This move aimed to attract developers, particularly those creating playable games. However, by August 2008, Facebook had overtaken MySpace as the world's largest social media network, with most of its growth coming from outside the United States.

Leadership Changes and Mass Layoffs

In a desperate bid to reverse the decline, News Corp replaced MySpace's leadership. And, promptly laid off 30% of MySpace's staff, reducing headcount from 1,000 to 700 employees. Unfortunately, these efforts were in vain, as Facebook had already surpassed MySpace in the United States by June 2009.

In March 2011, things weren't looking good for MySpace. It lost a whopping 10 million users between January and February that year, and over the previous year, its user base had plunged from 95 million to 63 million unique users. February 2011 was especially brutal, with a 44% drop in traffic compared to the same time the previous year, leaving just 37.7 million U.S. visitors. Advertisers were getting fearful, and not willing to make long-term deals with the struggling site.

The ship was sinking fast, and in late February 2011, News Corporation decided to cut its losses and put MySpace up for sale. They were hoping to fetch anywhere between $50 million to $200 million. The financial numbers were grim, with losses of a whopping $156 million in the last quarter of 2010, more than double what they lost the year before. It was a big dent in News Corporation's otherwise healthy finances.

On June 29, 2011, MySpace made a surprising announcement via email – it had been bought by Specific Media for an undisclosed amount, rumored to be as low as $35 million.

MySpace made a small comeback in 2013 with Justin Timberlake's help but couldn't win back its old glory. MySpace faced yet another shift in ownership. On February 11, 2016, the news broke that Time Inc. had acquired MySpace and its parent company. Things took another twist on January 31, 2018, when Time Inc. itself was purchased by Meredith Corporation.

On November 4, 2019, Meredith announced its decision to sell its equity in Viant, the parent company of Specific Media, marking another transition in MySpace's complex journey.

Why Did MySpace Fail?

Once a social media giant, MySpace's downfall was a slow, painful unraveling. Let's break down the reasons behind its ultimate demise:

Competition from Facebook: In the mid-2000s, a newcomer named Facebook entered the scene. Unlike MySpace's cluttered layout, Facebook offered a clean and intuitive design. It focused on connecting people with their real friends, not just online acquaintances. Innovative features like the News Feed kept users engaged. MySpace struggled to match this simplicity and user-centric approach.

Poor Product Design: MySpace's interface was not that easy with customization options. While users could personalize their profiles extensively, this freedom led to slow loading times and a cluttered experience. Navigating the site became an arduous task, frustrating those seeking a seamless social network.

Excessive Spending: MySpace spared no expense in marketing and advertising campaigns. Despite these efforts, users began to migrate to other platforms, casting doubt on the effectiveness of their spending. The investment failed to retain a loyal user base.

Legal Battles: MySpace became embroiled in a series of legal disputes, including high-profile copyright infringement cases. These legal skirmishes drained resources and tarnished the platform's reputation.

Failure to Adapt: MySpace lagged behind in adapting to changing user preferences. As the world embraced mobile technology, MySpace was slow to follow suit. Meanwhile, Facebook swiftly capitalized on the mobile trend.

Mismanagement: MySpace's management made questionable decisions, such as acquiring Friendster in 2009 only to shut it down in 2011. These actions eroded trust and left users disenchanted.

Is Myspace Still Active?

Well, the answer isn't straightforward—it's both a yes and a no. Myspace isn't the big deal it used to be, and most of its original users have moved on. But it hasn't disappeared entirely.

According to Semrush, a leading digital marketing platform, MySpace received 3.3 million visits in August 2023. This represents a decrease of 46% from July 2023.

myspace traffic
Source: Semrush

Myspace has transformed into a sort of clubhouse for smaller groups and folks who share special interests. For example, indie bands and electronic music lovers hang out there to connect with others who are into the same stuff and to show off their creative work.

Another reason Myspace hasn't vanished is its collection of old music and stuff created by users. As people left the site, they left behind a bunch of music, pictures, and videos. This treasure chest has become really important for music history and researchers. It gives a peek into the early days of online music and how social media started to take off.

So, even though Myspace isn't a big deal anymore, it's found a new purpose. It's a place for people with special interests and a time capsule of early internet culture.

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