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Did News Corp. Save MySpace?

Richard Rosenblatt, chairman-CEO of Demand Media and former CEO of Intermix, told AdAge that:

“MySpace was in an interesting stage of its development [when News Corp. acquired it],” he said. “It had a different type of capital structure and we weren’t able to make the type of investments for the infrastructure. Ultimately if we hadn’t sold to News Corp., MySpace wouldn’t be around today.”

Really? I think that it would certainly be different, but I would hope that MySpace could have found a way to monetize itself.

Then again, perhaps what Rosenblatt means is that without the major investment from News Corp., they wouldn’t have been able to strengthen the infrastructure and prepare for the 100+ million users today. I usually tend to focus on what MySpace is doing for News Corp., but I suppose that it probably goes both ways.

The AdAge article moves on from MySpace to look at the social media industry in general. They mention several media giants that would like to get in on the action: CBS, MTV, etc. The article acknowledges the difficulties in making money:

Social media, said Tariq Krim, co-CEO and founder of NetVibes, the popular French blogging platform, is about monetizing attention. “You’re addressing a group of people connecting through a passion,” he said. Added Bebo co-founder and CEO Michael Birch: “Engagement is still a tougher sell than just focusing on display advertising.”

And, of course, since he refers to data, I love this common sense reminder:

“One single show in prime time has more impressions than the top six shows on YouTube. … If we go tell clients something that’s not mathematically true, they’ll say you’re a bunch of idiots and we’ll have 2000 and 2001 again[," Rishad Tobaccowala, CEO of Publicis Groupe's Denuo, said.] Search has been such a booming online business because it scales, he pointed out, and added: “The rest is really hard work.”

I think it’s always good to be reminded that social media isn’t a get-rich-quick deal—unless you can sell to News Corp or Google.