How to Save MySpace

Jun 18, 2009 3,832 Comments by

I wouldn’t bet against MySpace. They attract over 70 million people a month (just in the US), and by most accounts are still one of the 10 most popular sites in the world. They also have a new management team, that’s headed up in part by Michael Jones (COO), the most all around talented internet executive I know.

But they’re clearly headed in the wrong direction, and have been for the last two years. Having grown up in LA, and having started Docstoc down here, there’s a bit of a shared connection.  I know many of their founders and early employees, and one of the co-founders of Intermix (the parent company of MySpace) is an investor.  MySpace has lost the battle as the “place for friends”.  If the powers that be can accept this and move forward with breakneck speed, they will have an incredibly huge opportunity to build something we will all be talking about again.

The following are my 7 Ways on How to Save MySpace

1.) MySpace = Yahoo 2.0: Turn MySpace into the Next-Generation Portal

myspace-jason-011MySpace should not require a login to get into the site, and I DON’T want to see my profile when I do log in. It should be the next generation content/ entertainment portal that leverages millions of user profiles to more accurately provide data to advertisers on what is appealing to specific demographics.

• Management will have to be willing to forgo millions in revenue in the short term by giving up the coveted advertising on the login page, to rebuild a compelling user experience
• Take away the primary focus on the logged in home page, on my profile and other users profiles – MySpace is no longer the popular online destination for connecting with friends, but it still is a traffic behemoth
• Get users immediately into valuable content that engages them in the site: featured video, music, news; video, popular trending items in my network

2.) A Micropayment Ecosystem for ALL Digital Goods

myspace-jason-02MySpace Music was an ambitious project, but it was executed moronically. They should have leveraged their relationships with the labels to recreate an ITunes that allows users to listen to songs in full and pay less than $1 a track. MySpace should also have the ability to save my credit card information and with a click of a buy button, enable every user to seamlessly purchase any digital good.

• Music – enable a dead simple player on band and profile pages that allows creators to upload their songs and have users purchase them for any price they set
• Movies – no website has more Hollywood DNA. Work with the studios to have premium Hulu-ish content prominently branded and for sale
• Artwork/Content – let users upload and share virtually any digital content including artwork and documents that they can promote and sell

3.) Local News Online & More Valuable User Generated Content

myspace-jason-03The user generated content on MySpace includes user profiles, updates, blogs and pictures.  MySpace should leverage their users to create millions of topics pages indexed in search engines.  This could also be done by leveraging a partnership (or buyout) of a site like Mahalo.

• Local newspapers are dying all across the country. Rupert Murdoch is quite the fan of newspapers.  MySpace should create thousands of online local newspapers that can be managed by a small team of experienced virtual editors and powered by a community of millions of citizen journalists.
• MySpace should be leveraging editors and their community to create millions of topic pages that can be indexed by search engines and drive traffic. Think eHOW or About.

4.) Court Star Power

myspace-jason-041Who are the evangelists pimping MySpace? Where is their Ashton Kutcher & CNN?  MySpace HAS followers, what it doesn’t have are people excited to promote themselves on their platform.  If MySpace can amass millions of users following celebrities, thought leaders and evangelists, these self promotion hounds will bring everyone else back and keep them engaged.

• MySpace’s attempt to copy twitter with “Status and Mood” was lame and sophomoric in comparison to Facebook’s play.
• Make the Status updates an exclusive benefit that ONLY celebrities and famous people get, and move millions of users to follow those select groups of evangelists.
• Kill the “friends” concept. I’m not friends with most of the people that are connected to me on social networks. There are people mutually connected, people I follow, and people who follow me.

5.) Fuel Micro Jobs

myspace-jason-05The world is flat, but it’s also poor. There are millions of people all over the world and in the US who need supplemental income. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is an amazing service that that enables the exchange of micro payments for any variety of activity. MySpace should be the conduit for the exchange of billions of dollars, connecting people who need work done with people who need work.

• Leverage a worldwide community to enable a perfect market for outsourcing activities like online research, writing and content review.
• MySpace’s active users on average have less discretionary income than Facebook’s active users. Empower working mothers and folks out of work across the US with the opportunity to make an additional $20 – $500 a month doing various online service based projects.

6.) New Product Releases Every Month & A Rock Star Product Evangelist

myspace-jason-061MySpace has come out with a thousand new features since I started using the site, but most seem to be buried in the navigation structure. The MySpace product management and dev team need to bite of fsmaller projects, get them out more quickly, and make sure they are exposed to everyone visiting the site.

• Have a set date every month where the public knows MySpace is coming out with a new key feature and build excitement and buzz around these releases. Their development process need to be more open and transparent to get the community excited about being part of reviving the MySpace user experience.
• In the early days of MySpace, Tom used to post messages all the time talking about new updates, fixes and features in the site, and even personal notes. MySpace needs Tom to be Tom again – the evangelist always communicating and involving the users. MySpace lost its personal touch, they need it back.

7.) Hustle & Chutzpa

myspace-jason-07I recently finished “Stealing MySpace” by Julia Angwin. The book is an incredible accounting of the history of MySpace.  Anyone who reads it should be amazed at a how a group of founders and dealmakers that were perpetually underfunded built one of the best known internet sites and had the largest financial exit of its time.

They did this because they had Hustle and Chutzpa, and it’s the same DNA th at Rupert Murdoch has. But somewhere in-between it got muddled.

MySpace surpassed Friendster in large part because they were quicker to iterate, they took more risks, and they turned their mistakes into opportunities. They built a fundamentally revolutionary user experience enabling friends to connect online.

But that risk-taking mentality seems long gone. I hope that MySpace is a place I want to start visiting again every day instead of once a month out of morbid curiosity.  I want Facebook to legitimately have competition, so we all benefit as consumers.  Most of all I want MySpace to take their 1000 plus employees & 100 million plus users and take big risks.

MySpace is a giant, and giants don’t quietly fade into ambiguity. They should be killed in glorious battle making a mosterous roar as they fall to a more worthy opponent; or they take their place as an endangered warrior that albeit bloodied and wounded, outlasted all their counterparts and will remain immortalized for generations to come.

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About the author

Jason is the Co-Founder and CEO of Docstoc.com, the premier destination to start and grow businesses, offering the best selection of documents and content resources. Jason is also the creator of Startups Uncensored the long running and most widely attended tech mixer in Southern California. Before starting Docstoc, he was a partner in a venture consulting firm in Los Angeles where he worked with dozens of startups. Jason holds a BA from UCSB and his JD/MBA from Pepperdine University, where he was the Student Body President of both Universities.

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