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MySpace Post-Mortem in the Financial Times

December 7, 2009

This weekend’s must-read for me was Michael Garrahan’s “The Rise and Fall of MySpace” over at FT.com.

…by the beginning of 2008, things began to sour. Facebook, a rival social network that was simpler and easier to use, was gaining momentum and starting to grow more quickly than MySpace. Murdoch confidently told the world that MySpace would make $1bn in advertising revenues in 2008 – but the company missed its target. Users began to desert the site, which had become cluttered with unappealing ads for teeth straightening and weight-loss products. News Corp executives could hardly hide their displeasure, and in April this year, DeWolfe left, closely followed by most of his senior management team.

I went into the article with some trepidation; reports after-the-fact are always more about ass-covering and finger pointing than actually distilling some kind of objective truth. Having consulted directly with some of the people mentioned during a sensitive time in the company’s history, I’ve got my own perspective on the events described. More than anything, I was intrigued by the narrative the article weaves, and the import Garrahan places on Rupert Murdoch’s actions.

Overall, it’s a good article for those that are interested in the anatomy of disappointment. It is marred a bit by some howlingly bad technology writing (e.g. “MySpace was firmly at the forefront of Web 2.0”) but manages to transform blatant attempts at perception management by News Corp PR and anonymous former MySpace execs into a compelling read.

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