As Google takes on the social networking world with Buzz, and Facebook and Twitter bring out location-sharing ala Foursquare, does anybody remember the social networking site that started it all? MySpace has had a tough year -- with employee cuts and CEO resignations -- but the company's new co-presidents are seeking to turn the site around with a new look, a new mantra ("Discover and be discovered"), and believers.
Co-Presidents Jason Hirschhorn and Mike Jones announced their plans to revamp the former social media giant -- plans that include a brand-new version of the site that will be implemented over the next few months. According to Reuters , Hirschhorn wants the site to grow from 100 million users to 200 or 300 million users (Facebook boasts over 400 million active users, according to its website). Hirschhorn did not give an expected timeframe for said growth.
MySpace has had a tough year so far -- Chief Executive Officer Owen Van Natta resigned in February 2010 (reportedly, after numerous clashes with News Corp's head of digital media -- and former AOL CEO -- Jon Miller), just ten months after former MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe stepped down.
Jones said on Monday that the company is at the point where they need "believers."
The new site will focus on multimedia -- all things music and movies, and will enable users to share their playlists with others. New user home pages were released last month and are a lot less cluttered than before (though personal pages still let people post messages with HTML and multimedia -- something that the very streamlined Facebook has never allowed). Other improvements include updates to high-profile celebrity pages, such as Lady Gaga and Angelina Jolie, so the pages have more information and are easier to navigate; improvements to the gaming channel via a partnership with Playdom; and synced Twitter and MySpace services.
According to USA Today, Emarketer still estimates that ad spending on MySpace will fall 21 percent this year to $385 million worldwide, despite the revamp. By contrast, Facebook is expected to bring in between $700 million and $1.1 billion, according to analysts. The $900 million shared advertising revenue deal that MySpace has with Google also expires this August -- which could be another hit to MySpace, unless the deal is renewed.
MySpace certainly seems to be talking the talk, but it will take more than a press conference and a snazzy new homepage to see if the new team can turn the site around. Especially considering they're looking to play up the "artistic musical" side in a world where one of the most popular social networking sites is built around entirely un-poetic microblogging.