Web 2.0 Summit: V For Van Natta: The Socialization Of Content


10694v5-max-250x250MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta is here at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. He sat down with Federated Media’s John Battelle to answer some questions about his company.

Van Natta clearly had a strategy for this Q&A: To say “the socialization of content” as much as possible. That’s the direction he wants to lead the social network in as it attempts to prove it can exist in a world where Facebook has passed it as the dominant social network.

So what does the catchphrase mean? Van Natta thinks MySpace has a unique position on the web because of its music deals with all the major labels and the independent ones. And because it’s a much more open network than Facebook, he believes this will work to MySpace’s advantage in helping people find content.

And that’s why Van Natta had not one, but two announcements today surrounding MySpace Music. The first is a dashboard that artists can use to see analytics about who is visiting their page and listening to their music on the network. The second is a single hub for all music video content. (We covered both more in-depth here) Again, this is possible because of MySpace’s unique music deals with the labels, Van Natta stressed.

Van Natta wouldn’t comment on the talk that Google is unhappy with the major ad deal the signed in 2006 and is set to expire next year. He did say that MySpace has always been great at monetizing its site and losing any one deal would not be a major blow.

Earlier today, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s keyword was “sharing.” That’s essentially what Van Natta is saying too, but he’s betting that his more open network and strong media ties will differentiate it.

Find the full Q&A below (paraphrased):

JB: So, did you do a deal with Twitter (laughs)? What are you doing with MySpace?

OV: What we’re doing with MySpace is what me and Rupert first talked about it. We think it can be the next generation of digital distribution of content on the web. It’s happening through people and not through portals. It’s the “socialization of content.”

JB: To the crowd: How many people have a MySpace page (maybe 20%), how many have a Facebook Page? (everyone). So how is MySpace different, why use it?

OV: We think we’re different from Facebook because you don’t have to have a real connection to use it. Maybe you use it to discover music. Music tastes get influenced by your friends. Also movies. These are touchstones in relationships. You shouldn’t have to know them in the socialization of content.

JB: MySpace Music is a very big deal. How is music playing into this strategy? Does that box competition out?

OV: Music is a great example of our socialization of content. Everyone loves music across all demographics. Our music label relationships are unique and that gives us content that other networks don’t have. MySpace is the only place you can go today to stream all the music you want. And every band out there today has a presence on MySpace.

And today we’re launching an Artist Dashboard (more on that here). This is our first example of our integration with iLike, the deal we recently closed. You can see all kinds of data. Geographic breakdowns, etc. There was a huge demand for things like this from artists. And they can use this data beyond the web – like when they think about tour dates. This will be available to all artists.

And we can extend this across other entertainment models.

JB: Will you charge for it?

OV: I think we’ll find other ways to monetize. One more product announcement is that we’re launching the full catalog of music videos from all the labels (big and independant) in one place for the first time. This is a byproduct of our relatioships with the labels.

We know that we can make the site a lot easier to use, and we’re working on that. This is one thing. This is a cleaner design than a lot of areas of the site. This will launch as I step off the stage. This will surface videos in a social way.

JB: Didn’t Google just announce that?

OV: But ours is pretty. (laughs)

JB: But seriously what do you have to say about what Google just announced?

OV: No deal news, but we have a lot of cool partner announcements. Google has been a great partner for a long time. Stay tuned.

JB: Let’s talk about Google more. They have a huge deal with MySpace, that expires next year. It’s big to have that money, but it may not have worked out that well for Google. Does your business hurt if that goes away?

OV: We’re really pleased with where are business is and where it’s going. We’ve always been good at monetizing our business. This is integrated marketing that no one else on the web does. And we’ve just scratched the surface. A key going forward is how you measure success. Our business doesn’t hinge on any one deal. News Corp believes that too.

JB: Jon Miller is your boss, and they’re building a business of their own: FIM, and MySpace is a part of it.

OV: Jon will talk more about it, but FIM is a big part of our monetization today.

JB: If Google goes away can that replace it?

OV: Again, we’re really good at monetization. There’s a lot of opportunity.

JB: Owen was an early member of Facebook. What does success eventually look like for MySpace now?

OV: We think we have all the building blocks, we just need to execute. If we do that we will realize the vision of content being socialized.

More TechCrunch

Scale AI has raised a $1 billion Series F round from a slew of big-name institutional and corporate investors including Amazon and Meta.

Data-labeling startup Scale AI raises $1B as valuation doubles to $13.8B

The new coalition, Tech Against Scams, will work together to find ways to fight back against the tools used by scammers and to better educate the public against financial scams.

Meta, Match, Coinbase and others team up to fight online fraud and crypto scams

It’s a wrap: European Union lawmakers have given the final approval to set up the bloc’s flagship, risk-based regulations for artificial intelligence.

EU Council gives final nod to set up risk-based regulations for AI

London-based fintech Vitesse has closed a $93 million Series C round of funding led by investment giant KKR.

Vitesse, a payments and treasury management platform for insurers, raises $93M to fuel US expansion

Zen Educate, an online marketplace that connects schools with teachers, has raised $37 million in a Series B round of funding. The raise comes amid a growing teacher shortage crisis…

Zen Educate raises $37M and acquires Aquinas Education as it tries to address the teacher shortage

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine.”

Scarlett Johansson says that OpenAI approached her to use her voice

A new self-driving truck — manufactured by Volvo and loaded with autonomous vehicle tech developed by Aurora Innovation — could be on public highways as early as this summer.  The…

Aurora and Volvo unveil self-driving truck designed for a driverless future

The European venture capital firm raised its fourth fund as fund as climate tech “comes of age.”

ETF Partners raises €285M for climate startups that will be effective quickly — not 20 years down the road

Copilot, Microsoft’s brand of generative AI, will soon be far more deeply integrated into the Windows 11 experience.

Microsoft wants to make Windows an AI operating system, launches Copilot+ PCs

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch Space. For those who haven’t heard, the first crewed launch of Boeing’s Starliner capsule has been pushed back yet again to no earlier than…

TechCrunch Space: Star(side)liner

When I attended Automate in Chicago a few weeks back, multiple people thanked me for TechCrunch’s semi-regular robotics job report. It’s always edifying to get that feedback in person. While…

These 81 robotics companies are hiring

The top vehicle safety regulator in the U.S. has launched a formal probe into an April crash involving the all-electric VinFast VF8 SUV that claimed the lives of a family…

VinFast crash that killed family of four now under federal investigation

When putting a video portal in a public park in the middle of New York City, some inappropriate behavior will likely occur. The Portal, the vision of Lithuanian artist and…

NYC-Dublin real-time video portal reopens with some fixes to prevent inappropriate behavior

Longtime New York-based seed investor, Contour Venture Partners, is making progress on its latest flagship fund after lowering its target. The firm closed on $42 million, raised from 64 backers,…

Contour Venture Partners, an early investor in Datadog and Movable Ink, lowers the target for its fifth fund

Meta’s Oversight Board has now extended its scope to include the company’s newest platform, Instagram Threads, and has begun hearing cases from Threads.

Meta’s Oversight Board takes its first Threads case

The company says it’s refocusing and prioritizing fewer initiatives that will have the biggest impact on customers and add value to the business.

SeekOut, a recruiting startup last valued at $1.2 billion, lays off 30% of its workforce

The U.K.’s self-proclaimed “world-leading” regulations for self-driving cars are now official, after the Automated Vehicles (AV) Act received royal assent — the final rubber stamp any legislation must go through…

UK’s autonomous vehicle legislation becomes law, paving the way for first driverless cars by 2026

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. What started as a tool to hyper-charge productivity through writing essays and code with short text prompts has evolved…

ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about the AI-powered chatbot

SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway: “Regulators seem driven by press releases when they should be motivated by true consumer protection and empowering equitable solutions.”

Fintech lender SoLo Funds is being sued again by the government over its lending practices

Hard tech startups generate a lot of buzz, but there’s a growing cohort of companies building digital tools squarely focused on making hard tech development faster, more efficient and —…

Rollup wants to be the hardware engineer’s workhorse

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is not just about groundbreaking innovations, insightful panels, and visionary speakers — it’s also about listening to YOU, the audience, and what you feel is top of…

Disrupt Audience Choice vote closes Friday

Google says the new SDK would help Google expand on its core mission of connecting the right audience to the right content at the right time.

Google is launching a new Android feature to drive users back into their installed apps

Jolla has taken the official wraps off the first version of its personal server-based AI assistant in the making. The reborn startup is building a privacy-focused AI device — aka…

Jolla debuts privacy-focused AI hardware

The ChatGPT mobile app’s net revenue first jumped 22% on the day of the GPT-4o launch and continued to grow in the following days.

ChatGPT’s mobile app revenue saw its biggest spike yet following GPT-4o launch

Dating app maker Bumble has acquired Geneva, an online platform built around forming real-world groups and clubs. The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its…

Bumble buys community building app Geneva to expand further into friendships

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons