Posters on the wall, teen magazines, boom boxes playing the same stupid songs over and over again (automatically!) – that’s not a sustainable situation, by definition. That’s teenage living and that’s what MySpace built its huge site on. Just like being a teenager, MySpace is something that most people grow out of. Today marked an important point in the internet’s move beyond MySpace.
The company ushered Tom out the door today from President into an advisory role is in talks with Tom about a new role if he leaves his post as President, and replaced its CEO with former Facebook business exec Owen Van Natta. Increased revenue isn’t really what MySpace needs, if it’s to stay strong it needs to stop bleeding users. That’s not likely.
Michael Arrington has been following the business moves closely and reports
Earlier this week, Jason Calacanis offered
he thought that the new CEO of MySpace should act on first. It’s a very good list: focus on dominating mobile, build up gaming, start a virtual currency, etc. It’s hard to think of better ideas, in fact. One source
that “the only thing that can save MySpace now is buying Twitter.”
Those are all relatively daring, smart ideas. But, none of them will work. That’s ok, MySpace was an important part of the social web’s early history. Its time has passed, though.
MySpace is an embarrassment for most people on the web. Many people feel like it’s a bratty kid sister wearing too little clothing. Danah boyd famously wrote in 2007 that the MySpace/Facebook split was largely about economic class. That may not be so true anymore. (See boyd’s response in an update below.) Give most people another option and they are going to choose it. Social networking used to be just for teenagers, but those kids are growing up and everyone else is joining in the activity. Not on MySpace, though.
As Eldon points out in his coverage, recent Facebook redesigns have brought new focus on sharing content to that site. Twitter has captured the public’s imagination as well and it is all about active sharing of personal news between contacts.
MySpace’s core nature is to express yourself into a void and hope people come to visit your page and check it out. The relatively recent additions of status updates and news feeds feel tacked on and superficial. MySpace clearly hoped that many of its users would write long-form blog posts but the time investment required to use that feature is much more arduous than the quick and easy publishing on Facebook and Twitter.
On some important level, MySpace is a lot like GeoCities. GeoCities closed its doors yesterday.
Facebook and Twitter may or may not stick around longer than MySpace has. MySpace will probably always be able to serve a sizable constituency in between children and adults. But, the momentum has left MySpace and churn in this market will probably keep Facebook from holding on to it for more than a few years as well.
None of this is news, MySpace went cold quite awhile ago. Tom hasn’t updated his status message in a week and a half. He knows what’s going on. Putting a business guy from Facebook in charge just makes it official.
Update: MySpace Communications emailed after this post was written to let us know that Tom updated his status message today after all, and that going a week and a half is nothing unusual for him. Point taken.
Update: Microsoft’s danah boyd sent us this response. “As for now, the 20-something MySpace crowd is using Twitter but the teen crowd is not. (Many of the 20-somethings even point to their MySpace profile as their URL in Twitter.) There is still a strong divide amongst the teens regarding MySpace and Facebook. MySpace is not dead among many teens (and it still comes up in my fieldwork… last set of interviews with teens being a month ago). Given what I’ve seen from this crowd and their attitudes towards those who use Facebook, I don’t expect there to be a switch to Facebook any time soon. That said, there is always the possibility of something new that does not have so much baggage. I’ve been waiting for the “next thing” for this crowd but I haven’t seen it yet.”