Myspace, the social media network that was once the most popular globally. It's incredible how quickly things can change- in just ten years, Myspace has fallen from being one of the largest companies in America to an irrelevant website on life support. This article will discuss what happened to Myspace and why it failed so spectacularly.
Myspace's story is a wild one, with the company changing hands three times in just five years before it met its end.
Myspace was one of the key drivers and pioneers of Web 2.0 in the mid-2000s. In 2003, with an emphasis on entertainment Myspace was created by Chris DeWolfe, Brad Greenspan, Tom Anderson and Josh Berman as an interactive online community for people to meet others interested in similar activities and listen to music together.
The first version of Myspace was created in 10 days.
Brad Greenspan was the eUniverse CEO, and he used eUniverse resources to help create the Myspace.com website - that domain had initially started life in 2002 as an online data storage and sharing site.
eUniverse's 20 million users and email subscribers were used to initially populate the Myspace website, which bumped it into a leading position in the social networking industry. It soon gained popularity among teenagers and young adults. The service caught on quickly- within six months, there were over 12 million registered accounts.
The early days of Myspace had no ads or banner images; it relied solely on user-uploaded content instead. Turning out to be myspace biggest strength at first: users could express themselves through their profile pages without limitations from advertisers who might object based on gender identity/orientation.
Users could upload photos, provide a biography, post music (or videos), and customize graphics. They could communicate through posts on the bulletin board or chat with buddies. Top Friends was a viral feature for social stratification - listing friends in order of whom you liked most that week. Myspace also functioned as a self-serving advertising platform for those seeking publicity.
The Myspace experience was an equalizer for those who wanted to make a digital impact.
It wasn't long before Myspace had more than 50 million users worldwide, and in 2006 it created the social network Facebook which would soon usurp its power. Myspace's growth also attracted new investors such as Rupert Murdoch of News Corporation, which led to speculation that News Corp desired to eventually take over ownership of Myspace.
News Corp purchased Myspace in 2005 for $580 million. The rationale was that it would capitalize on the Internet advertising and drive traffic to other News Corp properties.
Myspace had tripled its value from the date of purchase, and by 2008 it was the largest social networking site in the world.
Myspace began to decline in 2008 but took a tumble after being sold in 2011 for just $35 million. What caused this failure?
In 2013, Myspace sold to Specific Media for $35 million, and Justin Timberlake became the Chief Executive Officer. Around this same time, Facebook reported its first-quarter revenue of $16 billion, while Myspace generated only around $27 million in a year. In 2014, it had fewer than 200 employees and attracted less than 15% as many U.S visitors per month as Facebook or Twitter did at that point (according to ComScore).
The company had promised that Timberlake would act as a lead creative director, but he backed out of the deal after only two weeks. As a result, MySpace failed to execute the turnaround. Facebook continued to grow, and in February 2016, Time Inc had bought mySpace's parent company for an undisclosed amount.
It didn't adapt. Myspace originated with a target user audience of 13-18 year-olds in mind. However, as this demographic began to outgrow their high school mindsets of parties and punk rock bands, Myspace failed to appeal to their more adult interests and lifestyles.
Poor design. The look of Myspace was unappealing, crowded, and rarely updated.
Money hungry. Myspace felt pressure to drive revenue as other startups emerged, and its focus became all about money. In 2006, Myspace dealt with Google and doubled the number of advertisements on the site. As a result, pages were congested with ads, obscenity, and an apparent lack of care for its users drastically tarnished the website's reputation.
Porn. Myspace had a huge pornography problem, which started when it was taken over by News Corp in 2005 and became more prevalent as time went on.
Limited functionality. The limited number of features for users to interact with hampered the site's ability to be updated regularly or add new content providers such as blogs, podcasts, wikis, etc.
Too much photo storage space. Myspace granted unlimited photo uploads while other social media like Facebook allowed only 100 photos at one time. This made Myspace cumbersome and difficult for people who wanted to share their lives online but didn't have an endless supply of images.
In late 2011, Myspace rebranded to be a destination for "social entertainment and sharing in the new digital age" instead of a social networking website. This betrayal was seen as shameless by loyal users who viewed it as one more sign that the company didn't return their commitment.
Facebook quickly competed with Myspace, borrowing some mistakes and focusing on user-friendly design, constant innovation, relevant content that appealed to all ages (despite an age restriction), and a genuine concern for its users.
Myspace had a good run, but like anything else, its time had come. Facebook is a powerhouse in the world of social networking, but who knows if it will still be around ten years from now?