Back in 2008 MySpace was on a roll. They racked up $900 million in revenue and the company was still growing. But a year later top execs started to bail (the smart ones went early). Within two months cofounder and CEO Chris DeWolfe was gone.
We’ve gotten a copy of the confidential MySpace pitch book that parent company News Corp. has distributed to potential buyers. Notably, that pitch book doesn’t include any historical financial or user data about MySpace at all. Everything is projected out and forward looking, and even then it’s bleak.
Revenue for fiscal 2011, ending June 30, 2011, is expected to be just $109 million. Expenses for the year are projected to be $274 million, and the company will lose a whopping $165 million for the 12 month period. That’s after massive waves of layoffs, although I expect much of the costs of the layoffs are included up front in 2011 expenses.
After 2011 the pitch book turns to pure fiction. After losing $165 million this year, they expect to actually have $15 million in ebitda in fiscal 2012. How? Revenue will decrease to $84 million, but expenses will fall from $274 million this year to just $69 million. The company will then be profitable, says the pitch book.
That means about $205 million would need to be found in operating cost savings in the next 14 months. That means even more massive layoffs. And yet somehow News Corp. argues that revenue will only fall 23% in the next year. Costs will decrease 75%, and revenue will fall just 23%.
Believable? Nope. But at least on paper it makes MySpace profitable.
The pitch book predicts 2013, 2014 and 2015 revenues to be $101 million, $119 million and $139 million, respectively. With the company losing 14% of its audience every month, it’s hard to see revenue stabilizing and then actually rising.
It’s extremely unlikely that anyone believes the projections in the pitch book are possible. Which is why News Corp. is in the unfortunate situation of trying to offload a money vacuum, and will be lucky to be able to even give it away.
The real question is how much News Corp. should be paying someone to take this off their books, not the other way around. MySpace, in other words, needs a dowry. A sad fate for what was once the largest site on the Internet.