Digital Exhaust — Time Inc. Buys Myspace

via Myspace


Last month, I received a funny email in my inbox.

It was from Myspace, a social network I had long since forgotten, asking me to log in & resurrect my old profile.

The email itself went on to cleverly list its “Top 8” articles I might be interested in.

These included the following:

To be fair, Myspace did a fairly decent job of targeting me with the first two of these:
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I am a comic book collector and, more specifically, a Batman fan who is fairly excited for the new Superman v. Batman movie.

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Ditto here. I am both an ex-drummer (with nine years of lessons and study under my belt) and a fan of both The Muppets and Dave Grohl. Well done, MySpace!

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And here it goes sideways. I’m in my late 30s, solidly Gen X. I wear sneakers exclusively to the gym, don’t know who “Yeezy” is and have not used the word “dope” since at least the ‘90s. Scratch that – ever.

But I digress.

My biggest thought upon receiving this email from Myspace (clearly a desperate attempt to reconfirm my 15 year-old Hotmail email address) was obvious:

“Huh? Myspace still exists?”

The answer is actually “well, sorta’.”


To review the Wikipedia basics:

This one-time king of social networks took what Friendster pioneered and added steroids. In the pre-Facebook era it allowed personalization of a user’s pages in the form of audacious page design and obnoxious autoplay music.

Founded in 2003, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation acquired Myspace in July 2005 for $580 million.

From 2005 until 2008, Myspace was the largest social networking site in the world, and in June 2006 actually surpassed Google as the most visited website in the United States. The site generated $800 million in fiscal 2008 before dying a slow & painful Facebook-induced death.

In June 2011, the site was bought by Specific Media Group and singer Justin Timberlake for just $35 million.

From a sale of $580 million to a subsequent sale of just $35 million six years later (a decline of 94%).

Following the acquisition, the site became an entertainment portal focusing on music, videos, and editorial content.

But it was no longer a social network, and came under acute criticism in 2013 when the site deleted its original user content – years worth of user-contributed poems, photos, and messages.

Sold Again

So why is this all news?

Because this week Time Inc. bought Myspace parent company Viant, purportedly for Myspace’s user registration data (read: email addresses).

Time Inc. is a massive digital content machine that owns brands including not just Time, but also Fortune, Sports Illustrated, People, InStyle, and Southern Living.

But with access to all of the emails and demographic data of the hundreds of millions of Americans who have ever registered with Myspace over the last 12 years, they’ll gain a valuable direct distribution channel for those brands, as well as user data for better targeting ads.

While the terms of the deal were not disclosed, I’d bet dollars to donuts the Myspace piece cost less than $35 million.

In the meantime, during a season when social networking sites like LinkedIn and Twitter are seeing their stock prices and overall public valuations reach all-time lows, I’ll raise a glass to toast all of the social networking data – digital diaries, if you will – from once seminal sites like Friendster (now a Korean gaming site) and Myspace (a decent music entertainment site) that has since been erased.

Vice’s Lara O’Reilly said it best:

“It’s weird to think that when I opened a Myspace account sometime in the mid-2000s, it was all just some complex data hoarding exercise that would eventually be sold to a publishing house…Myspace ‘as we knew it’ has died a few times, but now I know my registration data was the most valuable long-term asset that I can contribute to any aspiring unicorn.” (source)

Nice knowing you, Myspace.

Thanks for being a small part of my early post-college years.

Weird to think of all those posts now up in smoke, existing only as memories – truly digital exhaust.

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