After $35 million sale, MySpace is now an advertiser's space

MySpace, once the king of the social media heap, has been sold for a price unthinkable just a few years ago.

MySpace is being sold to Specific Media for $35 million, marking the lowest point in a long slide for the once-reigning social media king.

Remember what Myspace used to be like back in the day? It was an insanely popular, extremely innovative social network, purchased for almost $600 million by Rupert Murdoch and the rest of the team over at News Corp. And then Facebook picked up some steam, gathered a membership of over 750 million, and generally left Myspace in a big cloud of dust.

Cue corporate shake-ups, lay-offs, and general discontent. (Cue, too, a name change: Eagle-eyed readers will remember that Myspace used to be MySpace – capital M, capital S.) Today comes the news – courtesy of Kara Swisher over at All Things D – that Myspace is being sold to Specific Media, an online ad firm, for a relatively paltry $35 million.

"The price is well below the $100 million that News Corp. had been hoping for and a chasm away from Myspace’s one-time billion valuation," Swisher writes. "The deal includes a halfing of Myspace’s staff of 400, as well as other cost cuts. It’s likely Myspace CEO Mike Jones and other top staff will remain only for an interim period." So: more layoffs, more corporate shake-ups, and probably more general discontent.

So what went wrong? Well, a combination of things went wrong, the biggest of those things being Facebook. Facebook gained cache and MySpace lost it; Facebook proved more adept at evolving its infrastructure, and MySpace did not. For a while, it looked like MySpace might thrive as a music and concert site – in 2009, MySpace acquired music discovery tool iLike – but Facebook expanded into that arena, too, allowing bands to create big, dynamic pages.

MySpace has steadily lost users: According to ComScore, there were 157.2 million US visitors to Facebook in the month of May, compared to only 34.9 million for MySpace. In January of this year, MySpace announced that it would cut nearly half its staff in an effort to make the site profitable again. Those lay-offs came on top of the 420 MySpace employees laid off the year before.

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