News Corp. sells MySpace for pennies on the dollar

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MySpace, the beleaguered digital platform that once represented the vanguard of the social media segment, has been sold by parent News Corp. to cross-platform advertising firm Specific Media for roughly $35 million. News Corp.--which acquired MySpace in mid-2005 for $580 million--dismissed approximately 400 employees Wednesday in preparation for the ownership change. MySpace CEO Mike Jones said in an internal memo he will exit his post within the next two months.

At the time News Corp. acquired MySpace, the site was the darling of the new media sphere, with 20 million unique U.S. visitors every month. But MySpace's fortunes dwindled as users migrated to rivals like Facebook and Twitter--although research firm comScore reports MySpace still welcomes 35 million U.S. visitors each month, Facebook alone now touts 157 million American visitors per month. And as users fled the MySpace platform, advertisers followed suit. Market research firm eMarketer anticipates MySpace will earn about $183 million in worldwide ad revenues this year, down from $605 million at its peak.

MySpace reinvented its identity multiple times over, and in late 2010 it unveiled a comprehensive redesign that shifted its focus from social networking to digital music content. Although mobile users rose 4 percent late last year to more than 22 million, the revamped MySpace continued to struggle, and in January 2011 the company cut 47 percent of its staff--about 500 employees in all--in a broad restructuring spanning all of its operations.

Specific Media's plans for the MySpace property are unknown. Earlier this year, social entertainment destination MocoSpace also confirmed its interest in acquiring MySpace in the event News Corp. decided to sell.

For more:
- read this New York Times article

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