How MySpace Tom May Have Inadvertently Triggered The Google/Facebook War

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Gotta love Tom Anderson. Newly reinvigorated by the launch of Google+, “MySpace Tom” has become a social power user (and regular TechCrunch contributor!). As a man at the forefront of the early days of the social wars, he’s obviously full of information. And today he decided to share a bit more. This time, it’s a fascinating story about the time Microsoft, not Google, was about to land the MySpace ad deal.

In a comment on (where else) Google+, Anderson tells the story in response to my most recent post about the Google/Facebook war before Google+. Based on a Quora thread, I noted that the 2006 search/ad deal Google signed with MySpace (Fox Interactive Media) may have been the true kick-off of hostilities between Google and Facebook. As a result, Microsoft signed Facebook — which later led to the famous investment.

But as Anderson tells it, it almost didn’t happen that way. In fact, it was Microsoft that was just about to sign the MySpace search/ad deal. “The reason we ended up going with Google search is because I ran into John Doerr and told him we were about to close with Microsoft. Within an hour, Google brass helicoptered out to a News Corp. shindig at Pebble Beach,” Anderson says, noting that he wasn’t allowed in the closed-door meeting where negotiations took place. This resulted in the billion-dollar deal.

“The terms were so screwed up, that it had a big impact (a negative one) on MySpace’s future,” Anderson writes. “Things would have been quite different if that deal hadn’t happened,” he goes on to say.

A few more awesome things about this info:

1) Again, Anderson is leaving this comment on Google+ — the new service by the company whose ad deal way back when helped seal the fate of his company.

2) Anderson says this was actually the first and only time he had ever met Doerr.

3) Vic Gundotra, now the man in charge of the Google+ project, was on the other side at the time, trying to get the ad deal done for Microsoft (Gundotra left Microsoft for Google shortly before the MySpace deal was finalized). This is how Anderson met Gundotra, in fact.

4) Anderson says he had forgotten all of this info until my post.

Indulge me here for a second.

Just think about what would have been had Anderson not run into Doerr? Microsoft would have likely closed the MySpace deal, perhaps with better terms for MySpace. Google, presumably, would have then gone after a similar deal with Facebook. This perhaps would have given them a leg up a year later to do a Facebook investment, instead of Microsoft.

If my wild speculation holds, the Internet would have been a very different place right now. It may have been a place for Google and Facebook to be friends. In a relationship, even.