Myspace savior Specific Media laid off 8% of its staff yesterday, about 50 people. Those laid off were mostly Myspace employees, presumably eagerly awaiting their severance package according to one source; “The people that [sic] got let go were celebrating because Specific Media doesn’t have a clue what to do.”
In the past three months, Specific Media had gone from the excitement of new acquisition smell to post partum depression it seems like, recently scaling back this summer’s grand Myspace relaunch plans because of unfavorable progress.
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We armchair tech enthusiasts can say that this was inevitable, but hindsight is 20/20 especially when you consider the ambitions Specific Media held for the company exactly a quarter ago, hoping that Myspace could find solace as a platform for premium celebrity online content.
At their grand entrance on Myspace’s sale day, Specific Media co-founders Tim and Chris Vanderhook sauntered into HQ to rally the troops — mainly with the news that former Mouseketeer and current superstar Justin Timberlake would also have skin in the Myspace game. One of those troops decided to record the speech for perpetuity, which you can listen to above in full.
It’s a pretty fascinating recording — in case someone at HBS is in need of a spare case study …
With their Pollyanna-esque enthusiasm, the Vanderhooks are basically making the classic mistake certain ad networks make, thinking that because they have the ads they can become a content or media company. Great media companies start with the media. Anyone can sell ads, but creating great content is an art.
Parts of the talk I found endearing …
“We wanted to move from just the advertising piece and truly become a digital media company.”
“What we were looking for was ‘Can we find a property that has scale and reach and really fits the bill that we could match up with our advertising infrastructure and then go head to head with Yahoo, go head to head with Facebook, go head to head with AOL, go head to head with AOL. Go head to head with Microsoft?'”
“We grew up in Southern California. We love Myspace. This is an iconic brand, we plan to bring back what Myspace was supposed to be. We want to invest in the business.”
“We are fired up, Justin [Timberlake] is fired up. He can’t wait to interact”
“I think it’s pretty simple, I mean you look at Myspace, it has a great platform, great technology, 70 million people still using the site. People can talk about the decline but there’s just one thing missing, it’s just got to be cool. At one point Myspace was cool and all of a sudden Facebook somehow became cool, We’re going to make Face uh – Myspace cool again.”
Denial is sometimes a lot more dangerous than that river in Egypt.