If you were a teenager between 2003 and 2008 then you almost certainly had a MySpace account. With the ability to change your theme, add songs to your profile page and experiment with animated icons, MySpace was once the cherry on top of the the social media cake.
But how did MySpace go from being the most popular social networking site to gradually being phased out?
The birth of MySpace
Back in 2003, a group of eUniverse employees – Chris DeWolfe, Brad Greenspan, Tom Anderson and Josh Berman – recognised a potential in the social networking features of social gaming site, Friendster. As a team they decided to incorporate the popular features of the website and 10 days later, MySpace was born.
Less than a year later in 2004, MySpace was launched and accquired an astonishing 1 million users per month. Not only was its value on the rise, the site quickly gained the attention of teenagers, allowing them to connect with friends and personalise their profiles. It also helped musicians like Arctic Monkeys and Lily Allen share their music and develop an international fan base.
Their success paved the way for local musicians to do the same and by 2005, MySpace had an exploding user base of 22 million benefitting from free music, photo sharing, blogging and connecting with other MySpace users online.
How big was MySpace?
It was evident by 2005 that MySpace was skyrocketing and it wasn’t long before Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation bought the social networking site for a whopping $580 million. Within one year the value of the site tripled surpassing both Google Search and Yahoo! Mail as America’s most visited site.
Not only did this make MySpace hot property for online users, Google was also able to capitalise on internet advertising, driving traffic to News Corporation properties with exclusive ad privileges.
In 2006, Fox – the daughter company of News Corporation – revealed a plan to launch a UK version of MySpace in an attempt to unlock the potential of the UK music scene. They were successful in doing this which lead to a version being released in China and several other countries.
At its peak, MySpace was valued at $12 billion and was still considered the leading social networking site, pushing the likes of Facebook out of the race.
Why did MySpace fail?
There are several suggestions that might explain the decline of Myspace. One of which was that it was stagnant, limiting users to entertainment and music. Facebook and Twitter on the other hand had released a series of new features to make the user experience more exciting and appealing to broader audiences.
According to the Alexa Ranking, Facebook overtook Myspace in 2008 and to add to this, MySpace co-founder, Chris DeWolfe stepped down. This began the downfall of MySpace and since then it has seen a considerable membership-loss. While Facebook was flying the flag with 200 million members, MySpace trailed behind with a mere 130 million.
Things didn’t improve and by 2009 the company had roughly 1,600 employees after laying off hundreds. It was even thought that Rupert Murdoch was disappointed that MySpace never met the expectations it was supposed to and didn’t adapt well to the changes in technology and social media.
Facebook was redesigning its entire layout, adding pioneering features that were simple to use and MySpace failed to follow in its footsteps. MySpace’s graphics were too complex and the audio feature didn’t operate properly.
It wasn’t just MySpace’s appearance that added to its demise. It was very easy for users to contact other users based on the information they provided and images they shared. This made the platform dangerous for teenagers and young adults who could potentially speak to users that might compromise their safety.
What’s next for MySpace?
In June 2011, Specific Media Group teamed up with Justin Timberlake to buy out MySpace for $35 million. And with Timberlake as Creative Director, it meant that the site could go through a transformation in the hope of achieving a fresh, new look.
Timberlake’s plans were to keep Myspace’s focus firmly on music and entertainment, competing with the Spotify and Facebook collaboration. Essentially, the new concept was to create a space that made it easy for record labels to find new talents and where musicians could share their music with fans.
MySpace has been owned by Time Inc since 2016 so whether the once popular social networking site can elbow its way back into the social media universe or not remains to be seen.
Can you remember your MySpace profile? If so, tweet us at @OV_Group and tell us all about it!