Why is this man not smiling?
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
Days after MySpace, the struggling social network site, replaced its chief executive, a leading media pundit has said that interference from its owner, Rupert Murdoch, has left the business in a state of “total desperation”.
Last week the site, which was bought by Murdoch’s News Corporation in 2005, made the shock announcement that Owen Van Natta was stepping down as chief executive after less than a year in the job…
Michael Wolff, author of The Man Who Owns the News, a biography of Murdoch, said that the roots of MySpace’s problems were much deeper. “It certainly is not [Van Natta’s] fault – he inherited a business in which you could only manage decline,” he said.
Instead, he suggested, the reshuffle is indicative of a wider panic over the way in which News Corp deals with its online businesses.
“The thing that’s going on at News Corp right now is total, total desperation over this digital stuff,” he added. “Rupert is saying, ‘What’s going on with MySpace? What’s happening? Why isn’t this working?’ It’s impossible to explain to him that it’s not working because it’s over, because this is the way the technology business goes. Once it’s past, it’s really past. There is almost no way to get that back…”
While the site has generated plenty of cash for News Corp – at one point, advertising on the home page alone was valued at $1m a day – a series of missteps has left it in turmoil, struggling for success and flailing in the wake of its rivals…
Figures from comScore, the internet traffic analysts, suggest that MySpace has about 57 million users in the US, down from a peak of more than 75 million. Facebook, meanwhile, has experienced incredible expansion in the past 18 months and now boasts more than 400 million users worldwide…
I used to have a modicum of respect for Murdoch’s business acumen. Turns out it hasn’t moved much beyond the end of World War 2.
He brags about NewCorp’ jump in revenues and profits – the bit that derived from Avatar – which is wholly James Cameron’s creation. He failed at trying to make DirecTV a stepchild to SkyTV – and bailed out in months. And, now that MySpace has fallen victim not only to the simple passage of time in Internet years – but, has become a turnoff since he made the home page look like the front of the advertisers’ weekly own paper – he looks for someone else to blame.
He’s getting what he deserves.