What Have We Learned From MySpace?

It used to be when you bought a business you bought something tangible. No more.

News Corp, owners of Fox News, Fox Television, Wall Street Journal, NY Post and a zillion other media properties is no longer the owner MySpace. It wasn’t pretty. This was a fire sale. Rupert Murdoch, the guy behind News Corp, has to be smarting from this.

With that in mind let’s look back and see was written not too long after News Corp bought it. Here’s some of what David Carr’s Media Equation column from the October 29, 2007 New York Times.

No snickering please!

In the United States, Mr. Murdoch’s appeal is thought to work in the heartland, where Fox News takes aim. But on the left coast, Mr. Murdoch is truly among friends. The attendees at the Web 2.0 conference know him as the ultimate market timer, the guy who swooped in out of nowhere and bought MySpace for $580 million two years ago, before its audience doubled and before social networks became the platform of the future. And this was before Facebook got a valuation of $15 billion via an investment from Microsoft on Wednesday.

“This is not just another rich guy — there are a lot of those around here,” said John Battelle, one of the summit’s hosts. “He built News Corp. from not much, with his own two hands, and this is a room full of entrepreneurs. The other thing this room respects is intelligence, and they can tell he is smart, really smart, not just from what he says, but what he has done with MySpace.”

I just read John Battelle’s writing a book that “will give us a forecast of the interconnected world in 2040, then work backwards to explain how the personal, economic, political, and technological strands of this human narrative have evolved from the pivotal moment in which we find ourselves now.” Yeah… uhhh … right.

It used to be when you bought a business you bought something tangible. No more. Was there anything to MySpace that couldn’t be carried around in a briefcase? What did Murdoch buy for $580 million in 2005? What did he sell today for $35 million?

When companies can rise or fall this quickly how can you properly value them? Maybe the lesson of the Internet era is companies should be run to earn, not to be flipped.

Note: I work for FoxCT. We are affiliated with Fox Television, meaning we run The Simpsons, American Idol and NFL Football. We are not owned or run by News Corp.

One thought on “What Have We Learned From MySpace?”

  1. Great post, Geoff. In a time when Wall Street has lost any realistic linkage to the actual companies and millisecond trading is SOP, when there is so much wealth concentrated in the hands of the top 1% that they can shed $500 million and not bat an eyelash (other than ego), this is wholly unsurprising. They can pour speculation money into many ventures simultaneously and not have true risk themselves.

    Welcome to the New Gilded Era.

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