Clash of the social networks - Myspace's failure to innovate

Myspace was one of the first social networking sites to reach mass adoption, and at one point it even outranked Google as the most visited site on the internet. It was founded in 2003 by several eUniverse employees who were inspired by Friendster, and wanted to make a social networking site of their own realizing there was big potential there. They launched the website in just 10 days. What made it different from Friendstar is that Myspace users could customize their page. It quickly gained popularity.

In 2005 Myspace was acquired by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation for $580 million. The deal was struck in 20 minutes. Richard Rosenblatt who facilitated the sale, explained in an interview how it all went down. He explained the business model very simply: “This is the perfect media company. The users generate their own content so you have no content cost, the users invite their friends so you have no distribution or customer acquisition cost, and all you need to do is sell the ads.”

Within a year of the purchase, Myspace had tripled in value from its purchase price, and Myspace's popularity continued to grow in the next three years. They never thought that other social media networks, such as Facebook, could take over their place as the king of the social networks, and even back in 2005 (before News Corp) they rejected Zuckerberg's $75 million offer to acquire Facebook.

As the world of social media was rapidly changing, in 2008 Facebook overtook Myspace in the rankings. There were several explanations to why this happened.  One big advantage that small startups have over big companies is their ability to make decisions and implement them quickly, and not having to report to ''the boss'' or meet financial objectives that were set by a big corporation. 

Myspace stuck to a "portal strategy" of building an audience around entertainment and music, and Facebook was adding new features that enhanced the social networking experience. Also, Myspace's advertisement deal with Google  to put more ads to a space that was already maxed out on ads slowed down the site which made it difficult to use. Simply put, the product and user experience was put aside for profit. And the products that they built were not good. Facebook allowed outside developers to build new applications, while Myspace built everything in-house. Shawn Gold, Myspace's former head of marketing and content, said “a lot of the products were shallow”. The new added features were also buggy and slow, which further displeased the users. 

One more problem Myspace had was attracting older users, since from the beginning it built its popularity among teenagers, whilst Facebook started as a platform for college students to connect. This led to an investigation being launched into children's exposure to pornography on Myspace. Since Myspace wasn't able to build effective spam filters, Twitter started targeting Myspace users and Facebook had communication tools that were seen as safe. 

Since then all the site redesigns that were made in an effort to get users back failed. Just between January and February 2011 Myspace lost 10 million users, according to Comscore. In June 2011, Specific Media Group and Justin Timberlake jointly purchased the company, and Time Inc. was in turn purchased by the Meredith Corporation in 2018.

Today, Myspace is focused on becoming a social network for music lovers and musicians, but it is hard to say what makes it different from other music based websites.  

Mysnap is one of the company cards in our Social Media scenario, which can be used  to extend your Playing Lean 2 game.
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