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 break up 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 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.