James Perrin

Timberlake buys Myspace: Is Life Imitating Art?

1st Jul 2011 News, Industry News, Social Media 3 minutes to read

Justin Timberlake, the American pop star and actor, has taken an ownership stake of the ailing social network Myspace according to Specific Media’s Press Release.

Timberlake played Sean Parker, the first president of Facebook and former Napster Employee, in the film about Facebook called the Social Network. Now in a bizarre twist, he’s turned his hand to internet entrepreneurship with this purchase of Myspace. Is this a shrewd move by Timberlake or does he just want to be Sean Parker?

Cast your minds back to 2005, Myspace was massive, taking 21.8 million unique monthly visitors. It was becoming the world’s fastest growing social network and at one point they were even taking up to 70 million unique monthly visitors. To the envy of many media companies, Murdoch’s News Corp bought the booming social platform for a reported $580m (£361m), and everything was rosy…well for a couple of weeks at least.

Before long, Facebook arrived with their very clever exclusivity marketing ploy. Starting on US campuses, the social network began gathering pace through word of mouth and it wasn’t before long that they achieved the demand they wanted. Universities across the globe wanted to get in on the action and then the company opened its doors to the general public – that’s when the floodgates opened.

To put this into perspective, back in 2005 Myspace’s 20 million unique monthly visitors dwarfed Facebook’s 8.3 million. By 2011 Facebook has amassed nearly 160 million unique monthly visitors with nearly 700 million members worldwide, whilst Myspace struggled to get 35 million. That’s still a good figure, but nowhere near on the scale of Facebook’s.

However, as the users jumped ship, so did the advertisers – which sucked the value out of the company. It’s believed that News Corp recorded a $156 million operating loss in the second quarter of this year, that’s $31 million more than last year. For years, Myspace suffered market share losses and faced stringent cutbacks to stop the ship sinking [See: MySpace Announce Job Cuts Amidst Slump in Market Share]. So, the outcome for News Corp? Sell.

At the time of their purchase, people even thought that $580 million wasn’t enough for MySpace; however I bet they’re glad they didn’t pay any more, because they’ve taken a huge hit on their recent sale. The company rubbing their hands at their recent acquisition are called Specific Media, who are believed to have bought the social network for just $35m,, that’s a whopping loss of £545m for Murdoch’s media empire.

So where does Timberlake fit into all of this? Well,MySp whilst Specific Media have acquired MySpace, it is Timberlake who is taking an ownership stake. They have said he’s going to, “play a major role in developing the creative direction and strategy for the company moving forward.”

In Timberlake’s words, “There’s a need for a place where fans can go to interact with their favorite entertainers, listen to music, watch videos, share and discover cool stuff and just connect. Myspace has the potential to be that place.”

Not short of desire and ambition, but does Timberlake really have it in him to be an Internet Entrepreneur or a Creative Director? For Specific Media the acquisition of Myspace is a steal, and the acquisition of Timberlake could prove even more valuable. Using a relevant celebrity to anchor some enthusiasm and reinvigorate the once cool social media platform has to be deemed as pretty astute if a tad audacious. It’s worked so far though, as we’re no longer talking about the decline of Myspace, instead we’re talking about its revival. Timberlake and Specific Media will reveal their plans for Myspace later in summer 2011.

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