MySpace: site that once could have bought Facebook acquired by Time Inc

Once the bastion of social networking, MySpace backed away from a ‘Space/Face’ merger in 2004. In the decade since, it has changed ownership three times

MySpace, Facebook’s one-time rival, has a new home. The fallen tech star is now owned by Time Inc, which acquired the company almost by accident after buying ad tech firm Viant.

Viant, formerly Interactive Media Holdings, oversees a portfolio of businesses including ad-targeting firm Specific Media, video ad network Vindico, and smart TV ad software-maker Xumo. Oh yes, and MySpace, purchased for more than half a billion dollars in 2005 by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and bought by Viant’s Specific Media for $35m in 2011.

MySpace, founded by a group of ambitious Friendster users in 2003, rose in prominence through the early aughts with such speed that it began to consider acquisitions – Facebook, for example, then a promising rival.

In Julia Angwin’s Stealing MySpace: The Battle to Control the Most Popular Website in America, the author recounts closed-door meetings between Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and MySpace’s Chris DeWolfe negotiating a Space/Face merger in 2004. Ultimately, DeWolfe turned Zuckerberg down – $75m was simply too high. Facebook is now valued at $288bn.

Murdoch’s interest in MySpace followed Time Warner’s historic, and catastrophic, merger with AOL in 2000, a deal that signalled the end of the last great tech boom and eventually led to the breakup of Time Warner and the creation of Time Inc.

Time was interested in the MySpace-inclusive Viant deal because of the personal information owned by companies such as Specific. The combination will allow Time, which owns Sports Illustrated, Time Magazine and several other storied print publications, to combine its editorial offerings with a storehouse of user data. Many companies, Time’s CEO, Joe Ripp, told trade publication AdExchanger, have either editorial content or user data. “We can offer both, and stand apart from those that offer one or the other,” he said.


Sam Thielman in New York

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Time Inc buys what is left of MySpace for its user data
Magazine publisher acquires social network’s owner Viant and will mine its membership data

Jasper Jackson

11, Feb, 2016 @3:07 PM

Article image
New boss Van Natta out in MySpace shakeup

Less than a year after he was parachuted in to run MySpace, Owen Van Natta is out of a job as the ailing social network tries once again to revitalise itself

Bobbie Johnson, San Francisco

11, Feb, 2010 @2:01 AM

Facebook challenges MySpace as place for the cool set to hang out

Helping people stay in touch with friends online has become the latest battleground for moguls. By Richard Wray.

Richard Wray, communications editor

21, Jun, 2007 @11:44 AM

How Facebook beats MySpace | Jenna McWilliams

Jenna McWilliams: In the battle of the social networks, the site that allows us to do what comes naturally is the one that people will prefer

Jenna McWilliams

23, Jun, 2009 @5:30 PM

Article image
MySpace announces 'Mashup with Facebook' collaboration

Alliance between News Corp's beleaguered site and longtime rival will put them in direct competition with Apple's Ping

Josh Halliday

18, Nov, 2010 @9:07 PM

MySpace is forced to slash workforce as social network users flock to Facebook

At least 300 jobs will go as MySpace cut workforce outside US by two-thirds

David Teather

23, Jun, 2009 @8:06 PM

MySpace statement on job cuts
Message from chief executive Mike Jones about the 500 redundancies at the social network

11, Jan, 2011 @5:38 PM

Article image
Activision's Bobby Kotick 'in Myspace talks'
Chief executive of games giant involved with investor group seeking controlling stake from News Corp, according to reports. By Juliette Garside

Juliette Garside

10, Jun, 2011 @11:05 AM

Article image
MySpace confirms it is to cut 500 jobs

Struggling social network to halve headcount, while responsibility for UK ad and sponsorship sales will pass to Fox Networks. By Jason Deans and Josh Halliday

Jason Deans and Josh Halliday

11, Jan, 2011 @5:37 PM

MySpace shrinks as Facebook, Twitter and Bebo grab its users

Staff quit social networking's former darling, now half the size of Facebook

David Smith, technology correspondent

29, Mar, 2009 @12:01 AM