The First Ten Things the New CEO of MySpace Should Do

Date: April 22nd, 2:05PM PST
Location: Mahalo HQ, Santa Monica
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The First Ten Things the New CEO of MySpace Should Do
There has been a lot of speculation on the future of MySpace since today’s news that Chris DeWolfe may step down as CEO. 
A few disclaimers: First, I’m personal friends with Chris and think the world of him. He is a visionary, a great leader and a true gentleman. In our business, everyone has their run and his has been one for the ages. If he is stepping down, I wish him the best and I salute him for an amazing run. Second, NewsCorp is an investor in Mahalo and has one of Mahalo’s six board seats. Complicating things even more, the new CEO of digital at NewsCorp is Johnathan Miller, who is also on the Mahalo board and who bought my last company, Weblogs Inc. 
Today, I’m not going to speculate on who will be the next CEO of MySpace–or if there is even going to be a new CEO of MySpace.
I know nothing. 🙂
What I would like to do today is talk about the top 10 things the new CEO of MySpace needs to do in order to revitalize the site. That’s a long version of me saying “this is what I would do if I was CEO of MySpace”–something I’m not prepared to say (at this time). 🙂
1. Buy a search engine
Search engines are the greatest advertising platform ever built because they capture a user’s exact intent at that very moment. In order to use a search engine, you must type something into a box and hit search. This means you can cognitively align a person’s intent with an advertiser’s message. Compare that to a social network, where you login and are given a menu of communications choices including responding to messages, finding new friends and connecting with existing ones. Social networks, as far as advertisers are concerned, are closest to chat rooms, instant messaging and email. In other words, advertising in social networks is very challenging when compared to something like buying keywords in a search engine. 
What’s the logical strategy? Simple: buy a search engine and dump traffic to it. 
At some point, people leave a social network and do a search. So why not capture the 5% of users leaving MySpace for Google by building your own search brand? If it’s got a high-quality results, some percentage of folks will stick around. I’ve been saying for years that MySpace and Facebook will add search engines, and with MySpace’s Google deal ending, now is the time for MySpace to invest heavily in search. 
Not sure about this strategy? Check how much of Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft’s traffic comes from email and how much of that traffic winds up on their other services (spoiler: it’s a lot). 
One of the most shocking things I learned during my time at AOL was that most of their traffic came from folks using communication tools like AIM and email that had very low advertising value. These users were quickly dumped–ummm… directed–to services with high CPM (i.e. content). 
2. Admit Facebook is beating you on the Web and focus on owning mobile
Let’s face the facts: Facebook is a much better platform on the Web. MySpace has a lot of work to do just to match Facebook’s offering. However, Facebook and MySpace both suck on mobile phones. Translation? Mobile SNS (social networking services) is up for grabs in the United States. 
On my recent trip to Japan, it became very clear to me that the majority of social network activity was occurring on mobile phones–not desktop PCs. No one has built the ultimate iPhone and BlackBerry social networking tools, although some folks are starting to get there. Geolocation tools, combined with the social graph, are the Holy Grail of social networking. 
MySpace should build a mobile team that is incentivized strictly on the number of mobile page views they generate.  

 3. Double down on global efforts

There is a huge opportunity to build the first truly global social network and Facebook is well on their way to doing so. Never has a name space service (i.e. login system) had a global foot print. Never. The value of a global rolodex of everyone on the planet is incalculable at this point because no one has ever done it. That’s why Facebook’s investors and management team seem so delusional at times: they actually believe they can build this global login system/rolodex/name space.
MySpace has some great international assets as part of Newscorp and they must figure out a way to make owning a MySpace account essential for every person on the planet in the way Facebook has. That means a LOT of focus on mobile. 
4. Parallel rebuilding of the MySpace platform
When you’ve got a juggernaut of a business, like MySpace, you can’t do something radical to the platform and technology because, obviously, you could risk a business that is about to break a billion in revenue. As such, MySpace needs to build an entirely new platform with an entirely new tech team in parallel with the “MySpace Classic” team. This is obviously a massive undertaking on a management level because you need to create a path for these two platforms to merge while managing two technology teams serving three different masters: the past, present and future. 
One of the main reasons why AOL bought Weblogs, Inc. was because of the Blogsmith platform we created. When I conceived of the idea for Weblogs, Inc., I insisted that we build our own platform because the offerings of folks like Moveable Type at the time were highly unscalable (at the time). Many folks criticized me for insisting that we build out own platform, saying that we were an editorial company and should therefore outsource that function. It was very clear to me from an early point that there were three defensible part of the business: the platform, the brands and the relationships with the bloggers. We focused very hard building a killer platform with strong blogs built by the most dedicated bloggers. 
The same lessons face MySpace: they need to realize that their platform is equally as important as their community. In fact, the relationship between the two is symbiotic. For too long, MySpace has rested on their community and not advanced their platform enough. Now’s the time to build a product and platform-driven company, while maintaining the community aspects. 
5. Focus on Building a Huge Social and Casual Gaming Business
Mark Pincus is killing it with Zynga. He doesn’t want me to talk about it, but the word is out: he’s making a ton of money and has a huge base of users. You don’t have to be genius to figure out that casual gaming inside of social networks is a huge win. Who did you play the last 10 games with: strangers or your friends? Exactly. Most folks like to play poker, basketball, Scrabble, videos games, etc. with their friends. If you’re not friends before you play the game, you’ll certainly be after you finish. 
6. Build a MySpace Virtual Currency
The SNS services in Asia are making most of their money selling songs, avatars and in-game objects. This trend is coming to the United States and MySpace is perfectly positioned to leverage it. MySpace should allow folks to buy MySpace Coins and use them to buy backgrounds, videos, mp3s and video games. MySpace Coins should be integrated into the casual gaming business I’ve discussed above. People should be able to bet these coins in Texas Hold ‘Em Games or Scrabble. 
If I was MySpace, I would buy one of the social network gaming companies, or better yet an existing web-based casual game company with titles that haven’t been ported yet. (You would get a much better price, obviously). 
Every month you’re active on MySpace should automatically earn you one MySpace coin. Streaming an MP3 to your homepage could be worth one Gold Coin, and buying it for download in MP3 format could be 10 Gold coins. You could buy 10 gold coins for a $1. It might cost five gold coins to signup for Scrabble or buy a Batman background and theme for your page. You get the idea: monetize all the goodies. That’s what places like CyWorld and World of Warcraft do. 
Will it work in the United States like it has in Asia? No one knows; that’s why it’s got huge upside. 
7. MySpace should launch a full-blown email service with a partner. 
MySpace should partner with Microsoft, Google or Yahoo to make a white-labeled version of their software. Everyone should instantly get with a great email service. Partner with one of the big services on this and split the ad revenue. Can you imagine how much the bands on myspace would love to have Genius!
Note: This is already well underway, I understand. 
8. MySpace’s new CEO should build a team bonus program based on unique visitors and page views
Perhaps MySpace has this already, but when clearing house and resetting compensation–which any new CEO is going to do–the new CEO should take extra care to make all compensation growth-based. I’m sure NewsCorp is very focused on the bottom line, but the truth is, NewsCorp has more than made it’s money back on MySpace. NewsCorp should not be trying to squeeze a profit out of MySpace. 
NewsCorp’s goal should be: The March to One Billion Members.*
* That’s what Ted Leonsis of AOL was trying to inspire the team to do when I spent my year there in his group. Zuckerberg is on this mission now and I’m fairly certain the first company to hit one million members will be Facebook. The company that gets to one billion members first is worth $50B. Really, $50B. 
9. Meet with top members and run a gazillion focus groups  
Seriously, who knows what the top members and rank and file of MySpace are thinking right now? They’re watching their friends use this new Twitter thing and message them on Facebook. They must be wondering if MySpace is going the way of Friendster and AOL and they’re right to think that. 
MySpace needs to get fresh products and services to their members every month. There needs to be a sense of urgency and excitement around these announcements, like Steve Case’s letters to members at AOL or that Steve Jobs’ keynotes. The new CEO has to really bond and work with the MySpace membership–whoever they really are! 
10. Buy or build a network of high-value content sites
No one knows this, but we almost sold Weblogs Inc. to NewsCorp. They were in the running up until the day we signed the contract with AOL. Truth be told, MySpace would have been a wonderful home for brands like Autoblog, Engadget, Cinematical, TVSquad and Joystiq. When you say “MySpace users,” you’re basically saying “all of America.” Having a content network with high-value content about cars, gadgets, gossip, TV shows and movies is a no-brainer. 
Once you’ve established a robust network of niche content sites, your advertising folks can upsell MySpace advertisers on them–or upsell MySpace to the advertisers on the niche sites. Not sure if this would work? I am, because I went on the sales calls to the top 25 advertisers in the world who wanted to buy Enagadget and Autoblog and watched AOL sales folks upsell them on AOL Autos and AOL’s Technology Channel. The niche sites were MORE desirable than the mothership, truth be told–and rightfully so since the niche sites had the mavens. 
The MySpace team has a done a wonderful job of creating one of the great brands of the new millennium. However, the MySpace story–and social networking overall–is probably in its second or third inning. There is much more upside in the future of MySpace than there is in its past. 
It’s important to note that these are just the ideas that first come to mind and clearly there are many more things that need to happen. This is just a top-level overview from someone who has spent the last 15 years in the Internet business and who’s thought a lot about the challenges and opportunity in front of MySpace.
Feedback (Your Job)
1. Please let me know which one of these ideas is most important.
2. Please let me know which idea has the most upside. 
3. Please let me know what amazing ideas I didn’t add to this list. 
all the best,
Your Pal Jason
PS – To the press: “No comment.”
PSS – To the bloggers: “No, really… no comment.”
PSSS – To my family members: “Can’t comment, but will talk to you Friday.”

67 thoughts on “The First Ten Things the New CEO of MySpace Should Do

  1. Your right, MySpace has a very good chance of owning the mobile market, just don’t forget about all the people without an iPhone or android powered device that are still using Razr’s.

  2. Jason, great article and I am with you on many of these points. You’ve got my vote for Jason as the new CEO of MySpace 🙂

  3. 1. Mobile. If you end-up CEO. you and I should talk 🙂
    2. Mobile.
    3. Music. Become the undisputed #1 destination for fans to discover, listen, communicate with their favorite bands. Online, and on mobile obviously.

  4. Go to love Arrington throwing your name on the list of next MySpace CEO’s

    Great list, there is no doubt that some major changes are needed
    to grow that bad boy.

    I love the idea of integrating online social gaming in the MySpace Platform. Right on the money there.

    I still think there is lots of room to add value to the experience that usicians have on the site. Make it the go to source for promoting and building a following around a group.

    Thanks for always interesting emails dude. Rock on.

  5. A solid list, Jason. The challenge will be bringing these various ideas into a single, clear and bold vision for what the company should be — I’m still not seeing that, although I hope to.

  6. If MySpace really wants to lead the mobile pack they better start, like, right now. Facebook is already fairly successful on the iPhone and don’t think they will sit on their mobile laurels while MySpace moves ahead.

  7. Jason,

    I think #2 and #3 that I list below are most important. [I aligned them with your #’s].
    #3 has the most upside [global to 1billion users].
    #11 is an idea missing [they are slowly losing bands, and thus band followers, over to twitter].

    1. Buying a search engine is overkill. You don’t care about the search engine, you care about the advertisers — Google has landed them (and due to the mass competition can get nearly 3x revenue what their next closest competitor gets Yahoo …. unless that number has changed) — so have a big emphasis on search, but use Google and take your 80% rev-share that you can negotiate [because Google doesn’t want to give up those searches and put a competitor ‘on the map’]. A search engine isn’t their core competency.

    2. There’s a reason MySpace is dead [or dying] — people are sick of the mess! It’s a clusterfuck of clutter! Geocities was the same way. Yahoo — same way [which is part of why Google took over Search]. I’d maybe think of introducing a “flip-side” of MySpace — a sexy, clean, cohesive version — and then the version where users can go buckwild-style on their pages [hell, bring back the ‘blink’ tag and let them go at it]. I think in order to take-over mobile, you need to clean up the mess first on the website.

    3. Global efforts and race to 1billion users: Partner/buy global social networks that don’t overlap too much with your existing userbase. Also, need to internationalize the site [if it hasn’t been already; FB has users doing this for them].

    4. You’re talking a massive overall here (no more coldfusion? ahh!). But maybe it could be outsourced to the gods…

    5. Games: Fuckin’ bingo. I mean, no brainer; can’t believe this hasn’t been done yet., they should go buy ’em.

    6. Love the virtual currency. This is still up for grabs; they could potentially shift into OWNING this space — and hell, MySpace Coins might make their way into Facebook App games if they were the most dominant virtual currency. [And that is, if the USA could grasp this concept]

    10. Content sites: Agreed, but this is insignificant in the big pie they are tackling.

    11. They use to OWN the bands, they still kind of do, but Twitter is hopping in there and grabbing a piece. Twitter owns the communication; MySpace owns their space. I’ve been watching ’30 Seconds to Mars’ and ‘Imogen Heap’ on Twitter — both are in the studio working on new albums; it’s been exciting to watch their progress (and I’m in great anticipation for releases!). Anyhow, they need a “status update” service.

    Steve Poland
    Founder/CEO, InSeconds

    Follow me at
    Blogging at

  8. If -and that’s big IF- the new CEO (whomever he or she may be) were to implement the ideas you said above, I -as a current and heavy Facebook and Twitter user- would be inclined to start using MySpace.

    Two big things:

    – I strongly believe your idea for the parallel rebuilding of the MySpace platform is essential. I know that my friends (currently in their mid to late 30’s) would not touch the current MySpace with a ten-foot pole. MySpace has a reputation among them of being only for teenagers. However if there was a strong rebranding campaign about “the new MySpace”, they might consider giving it a look. Keeping MySpace Classic would be essential to avoid a revolt of existing users.

    – The mobile platform with geo-location abilities are a must. My friends are intrigued by Brightkite and Loopt, but other than a casual glance, don’t really use either. Why? They’re not Facebook or Twitter. Why get involved with yet another social network? However if Facebook were to implement the features of (or buy outright) Brightkite or Loopt, my friends would use it like crazy. MySpace needs to beat Facebook to the punch on this in order to get users to consider switching. If MySpace had a killer mobile app, it would be a lot easier to convince my friends to join/use MySpace.

    On a side note, I also think MySpace needs to incorporate social “feed” features to pull everything together. If people could get not only their friends MySpace updates, but also Twitter, Flickr, GoodReads, etc, it would be a compelling reason to get them to use MySpace. They wouldn’t feel they were missing anything. For this reason I would add one more idea to your list above: buy Friendfeed (or Plaxo) and create a multi-network social feed within MySpace.

    You have some great ideas. I sure hope that new CEO (whomever he or she may be) listens to them.

  9. nice post. with so much product issues, they really need to
    focus, and you have the right direction: entertainment orientation and optimize the mobile platform…having a significant global audience is key but they don’t have to be the biggest, that’s a recipe for disaster. focus on this key segment, the mobile platform, and discipline on monteizatni

  10. 1. Redesign the complete site and make it really nice and fun.
    2. Implement a mySpaceID that simply works with samples demo
    3. Allow groups to update their events from outside mySpace, which is not possbile with API
    4. By or any eticketing provider to allow groups to sell ticket from the site

  11. Jason, thanks for a great article. From my point of view point’s 4-6 would have to be the major task for any new CEO of MySpace while taking the mobile market to boost interest, while a new platform was developed.
    Also as Jess Sloss said Musicians seem to have added quite a lot of value to the whole MySpace experience it just needs to be expanded.

  12. > The company that gets to one billion members first is worth $50B. Really, $50B.

    Google is already there. Perhaps this is something the geniuses at yahoo should understand.

  13. And integrate NewsCorp proerties into MySpace. NewsCorp has so many digitally viable elements in its portfolio — Page Six, 24, The Simpsons, American Idol, House — that aren’t nearly synergized enough. Why isn’t MySpace more cleverly integrated into American Idol? Why aren’t there links to celebrity and band MySpace pages in Page Six at every given opportunity? Why doesn’t jack Bauer have a MySpace page during the offseason of 24 with blog entries and original content?

  14. I couldn’t disagree more with almost all of your assertions, especially the part about conceiting the game to Facebook on the Web. Just addressing a few of your points:

    While I agree that Myspace needs to focus heavily on mobile, outside of tech folks, I do not believe that Myspace is falling behind Facebook in users because Facebook offers a drastically better interface/experience. To the vast majority of users, in their current state, Myspace and Facebook offer basically the same thing, a way to stay in contact with friends, family, etc. Therefore, users are joining Facebook at a faster rate because that is where their friends are now. Simply put, Myspace is losing the PR battle to Facebook. Just as Twitter has grown suddenly not because they have a phenomenal interface, rather because people like Ashton Kutcher, Larry King, and Oprah Winfrey are now talking about it.

    What I have always believed (and what you failed to mention) is that once Myspace starts utilizing the full power behind News Corp it changes the social media landscape completely. For example, once Myspace starts doing live ad-supported radio streams and live ad-supported original content video streams, they then can connect their users and advertisers in a way that adds real value for both. Imagine if you could hear live radio streams of the best undiscovered bands and streams of popular artists by genre on Myspace – i.e., bring the music to where the users live. That move alone changes the game for traditional record companies and radio stations. That allows Myspace to discover, sign, and promote the next major acts globally, while offering their users the best place anywhere to discover new music and listen to the artists they already know and like. Practically every band in the world already has a Myspace page so it’s easy to implement. The next Beyonce is one click away from the Myspace A&R department.

    From a video streaming standpoint, unlike Facebook, Fox has production facilities, so they can produce video streams of original content that appeals to Myspace users – concerts/shows (think “VH1 Storytellers,” etc.), news programs, awards shows (Myspace Music Awards, etc.). They also have an unlimited pipeline of Fox content such as behind the scenes at “American Idol,” “24”, etc. Mr. DeWolfe talked about turning Myspace into an online MTV as one part of the social network, but for whatever reason he wasn’t able to do it. However, when that happens, Myspace will then be able to capitalize (build the brand) on the global celebrities that they are creating – Tila Tequilla, etc.

    Ultimately, I think that we will find that regular media and social media are just extensions of each other (i.e., why people go to Youtube to watch Brittney Spears videos, and why Susan Boyle had to be on a British television program to get a hundred million YouTube views, etc.). My hope is that the next CEO of Myspace realizes that it’s not about the technology, it’s about the content. One, because social networks can’t lose money forever, and two, because watching/reading/listening to bad user-generated content gets old very quickly and doesn’t give advertisers much to work with.

  15. Why the hell is this post written in light gray on a white background?!
    Sorry, should have mentioned good post! Waiting on the next post!

  16. It seems to me that FB is already doing a good job on mobile.
    The two big advantages of Myspace seem to be the artistry
    you can create on your front page and the music the confronts you
    there, and which you can discover. The whole thing is too slow.

    Bands who post music now have no idea how many people are adding
    their songs. They should sell data back to the bands. There’s
    a market for that.

    I am not technological, but it seems that the platform may be
    outdated and needs a newsfeed / auto update feature.

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