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Kai Ryssdal: Back before Twitter, before everybody and their dog was on Facebook, Rupert Murdoch paid more than a half a billion dollars to bring MySpace into the NewsCorp empire. Everyone said he overpaid for the social-networking site. That being part of a big corporation like NewsCorp would be the end of MySpace’s cool. Well, let’s just put it this way. The site that calls itself “a place for friends” is now more like the place for pinkslips and a longing for the days gone by. Marketplace’s Rico Gagliano reports.
RICO GAGLIANO: In case you didn’t get the update: 30 percent of MySpace employees are losing their jobs. The company says the 400 layoffs are a first step towards reviving MySpace’s quote “start-up culture.” For a translation, I called tech blogger and analyst Christopher Null.
CHRISTOPHER NULL: “Start-up culture” is actually an euphemism for forcing everybody to work long hours for low pay, so…
GAGLIANO: See, I thought “start-up culture” meant that you got to start having raves in the office.
NULL: Right, and you got to have a keg in the break room, too.
Alas, those days are gone. Null says MySpace has to streamline to compete in a field it used to dominate.
NULL: MySpace has been the market leader in social networking for many years. Along with that usually comes complacency. They are realizing now they need to retrench, cut costs, and compete with the elephant that’s coming up right behind them, which is Facebook.
More like the elephant that’s trampling them. Facebook has long had more visitors outside the U.S. And e-commerce analysts ComScore says in May, Facebook edged out MySpace in domestic traffic, too, with twice as many users as a year ago. Still, Null says MySpace’s return to its “start-up” beginnings doesn’t actually signal the end.
NULL: You know, music right now is dedicated to MySpace. A lot of bands speak to their fans exclusively this way; it’s a real phenomenon, and I don’t think it’s going to just go away.
But there are rumors the company’s about to undergo a total revamp of its site. I mean, at least that’s what I heard on Twitter.
In Los Angeles, I’m Rico Gagliano for Marketplace.