MediaFile

MySpace: Be ready to read this story twice

MySpace, the online social network (can we still call it that now that it has ducked out of the Facebook/Twitter competition?), appears to be pursuing what I’ll call the “two-pronged news strategy.” You get used to it when you cover media and technology. For those of you who don’t enjoy this privilege, it goes like this:

    Pick a news outlet that you like and whisper things to them about what you’re doing. It doesn’t have to be interesting, it just has to be exclusive. If you’re in public relations, you don’t even have to know that someone in your company is doing this. It works well for you. Let the rest of the press read the story and bombard your telephone and e-mail with messages demanding to know if it’s true. Score a big hit on the news cycle. Because you either decline to comment or only want to talk “on background,” it heightens the air of mystery — and newsworthiness. The official announcement of the news, which will always resemble 90 percent or more of what you read in the first round of anonymously sourced stories, will get just as much attention as that first round. It’s a 2-for-1 deal that is irresistible to many companies.

I don’t know that MySpace is doing this, and wouldn’t be able to confirm it if I asked. It could just be that the reporters who get the breaking news have great sources and the reporter asked smart questions that would yield good answers. I’ll let you judge.

The first example comes from Kara Swisher, tech blogger at AllThingsD, which is MySpace’s cousin in the News Corp family. She reports:

Microsoft’s MSN is in preliminary talks with MySpace about using the social networking site’s music service, MySpace Music, to help power music offerings on the giant portal. …

Sources said Microsoft execs don’t think they can do as good a job as MySpace is doing and don’t see the point in striking needed but complex deals with music labels, which the News Corp. (NWS) property already has.

MySpace: A place for musicians… and their friends

It appears to be Music Wednesday on the Internet. On the same day that reports began circulating that Google and Facebook will launch a host of new music features, News Corp’s MySpace is turning up the volume on its own music offering.

The online social network will offer the following new features:

    You already can buy music on MySpace through Amazon, but now you can also get it through Apple’s iTunes. All music videos will now be available through a “hub” on MySpace Music. This includes music video recommendations based on what your friends are watching, along with a video player with a link to buy the ones you like, and an A-Z browser to find what you’re looking for. An artist’s dashboard (pictured in this blog post). This is not something that fans would see. Instead, it is reserved for artists and bands that want to track their popularity among MySpace users. This is one of the more interesting things that we’ve seen on MySpace. It offers charts, graphs and snapshots of MySpace music data, including where fans are, song plays, profile views, friend count and profile visitors.

MySpace Chief Executive Owen Van Natta says that these moves give the service’s users a “more integrated and comprehensive experience — not just audio in one place and band interaction somewhere else.”

On a deeper level, they are part of a reconstruction of MySpace and its goals that started when News Corp earlier this year replaced top management and brought in Van Natta, formerly of Facebook. Recall that MySpace has not had a great go of things lately, having fallen behind Facebook in the few years since News Corp bought it for $580 million.

from The Great Debate:

Can sleeping giant Skype reinvent itself?

eric_auchard_thumbnail2.jpg -- Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

Do once-hot Internet start-ups who miss a date with destiny ever truly get a second chance? History says no, even for once-great names like Netscape, AOL and MySpace.

Skype hopes to be the exception. On Tuesday, a group led by top Internet financiers in Silicon Valley and Europe agreed to pay eBay $1.9 billion in cash for a 65 percent stake in the one-time web calling sensation.

The deal values Skype at a face-saving $2.75 billion, well above the $1.7 billion at which it has been valued on the ecommerce giant's books. Ebay also stands to keep a 35 per cent stake in the company.

MySpace in talks to buy iLike for $20m – reports

MySpace is looking to buy Web music service iLike for around $20 million according to several blogs. iLike co-founder Hadi Partovi declined to comment when we asked him and MySpace’s PR team also declined to share details.

All Things Digital has the latest details of the deal which they say is around $13.5 million in cash, with a $6 million earn out for the founders which include Hadi’s twin brother Ali who is CEO. Official confirmation of an agreement is being held up by “thorny tax issues” according to All Things Digital’s sources.

The news makes some sense because as MySpace is fast losing ground to Facebook in the social networking arena. MySpace’s owner, News Corp, has indicated that it sees the site becoming more of an entertainment portal.

Social gaming startup eyes big opportunity

Social gaming startups, which offer free-to-play games on sites like Facebook and MySpace, have been all the rage, scooping up funding from the venture capital community and nabbing executives from traditional gaming outfits. The hoopla seems warranted given the meteoric growth many expect to see in the space over the next few years.

Playdom, which was launched last year but only emerged from stealth mode in March, recently made a big splash when it lured John Pleasants from his perch as COO of Electronic Arts to become its CEO. Playdom battles rivals Zynga — which predicts revenue of $100 million or more this year — and Playfish in an increasingly competitive space.

In an interview, Pleasants called his return to the startup space “refreshing” and used a whiteboard to make a convincing case about the industry’s potential. He pegs the overall social gaming market at around $500 million, but expects that to increase ten-fold in the next several years.

Hack attack spares MySpace injury, but not insult

MySpace.com dodged a bullet on Thursday, but in the process the social networking site may have gotten a stinging slap in the face instead.

Hackers trained their fire on social media highflyers Twitter and Facebook Thursday morning, knocking the former entirely offline for a few hours and slowing things down on the latter site.

LiveJournal, a blogging site, was also a victim of the so-called denial of service attacks.

Monday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s top stories in the media industry:

Microsoft takes on Google as Office moves to Web (Reuters)
Jim Finkle reports: “Microsoft will offer for free to consumers Web-based versions of its Office suite of programs, including a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software and a note-taking program. Microsoft will also host one Internet business version of Office at its own data centers, charging companies a yet-to- be-announced fee.”

Six in 10 companies plan to skip Windows 7 (Reuters)
“Many of the more than 1,000 companies that responded to a survey by ScriptLogic Corp say they have economized by cutting back on software updates and lack the resources to deploy Microsoft’s latest offering.”

MySpace to Take Entertainment Tack (WSJ)
“In a brief interview, News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch said MySpace needs to be refocused ‘as an entertainment portal.’ Mr. Murdoch described his vision for MySpace as a place where ‘people are looking for common interests,’” writes Julia Angwin.

Sun Valley: Google’s Schmidt likes to talk social

Social media is a big topic of discussion at Sun Valley. And Google, the king of Internet search, has been talking to the various players.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said on Thursday that he’s “chatted” with the MySpace folks while at the conference, and noted that Google has had many conversations with Twitter in the past.

Google’s $900 million advertising deal with MySpace will expire next year. Some analysts believe any new deal will involve Google paying considerably less money to run ads on MySpace, whose popularity been eclipsed by Facebook.

Facebook crushes MySpace in minutes, but lags on video

Facebook won the bragging rights to being the world’s largest social network site last year, based on the worldwide number of unique visitors to its site.

But what about some of the other metrics that advertisers care about?

According to the latest figures from Nielsen, Facebook and rival MySpace each have key strengths to woo advertisers with.

When it comes to “engagement,” that is how much time people are actually spending on a site, Facebook is making big gains. In April, the total number of minutes spent on the site in the US surged a whopping 700 percent from April 2008, to 13.8 billion minutes.

from Summit Notebook:

Facebook’s Zuckerberg talks MySpace, Twitter

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke to the Reuters Global Technology Summit on Tuesday and while he wouldn't touch TechCrunch's report about financing and valuation, he did opine about a few of Facebook's Web peers:

On the difference between Facebook and MySpace:

I think MySpace defines themselves as more of a media company and a media portal. A way to see the different content that is going on, or a way for a News Corp parent company to spread content through the network. Facebook has always been more focused on helping people build out their identity, helping people maintain their relationships and communicate really efficiently. We have talked about ourselves as a technology company a lot as opposed to a media company.

On the difference between Facebook and Twitter:

We respect Twitter and we think they are a great company. I think Twitter's focus different is markedly different from Facebook's. They are not really at all about a user's identity. They are more about real time communication. People are sharing more and more information...and on a more frequent basis. If you extend that out then there is a good amount of information that is being shared in real time. That's where a service like Twitter comes in, and that's why that's also one piece of what we want to do. If your friend does something important...there is no reason why you don't want that update immediately. Real time is clearly one of the growing trends but i don't think it's the whole picture.