MySpace Revamps Site In Hopes Of Spurring Revival

MySpace networking

Once the dominant platform in social networking, MySpace has steadily lost ground to more powerful rivals like Facebook and Twitter, and in the past year has seen its user audience shrink, its staff numbers trimmed, and two C-suite level departures in less than a year.

In February, CEO Owen Van Natta resigned, and Chief Product Officer Jason Hirschhorn and Chief Operating Officer Mike Jones, both of whom joined MySpace with Van Natta in April 2009, became MySpace's co-presidents.

"It would be silly to count us out," Hirschhorn told assembled media at the briefing, as reported by USA Today and other sources. "There is a pulse of pop culture on MySpace."

It's that pulse around which MySpace's revamped site is organized. Focused on media and music, the new MySpace, which according to Jones and Hirschhorn will be rolled out gradually over the next few months, will include such features as the ability for users to share playlists with other MySpace users. MySpace's music focus has long been a strength for the social networking company, especially for musicians looking for places to easily share their music without traditional distribution.

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It may not be enough. MySpace in January 2010 saw 119.6 million unique visitors, according to web traffic researcher ComScore. That was down 7.4 percent from January 2009, though an increase from MySpace's November nadir of 108.1 million unique visits. By comparison, according to ComScore, Facebook consistently counts about 400 million active users and continues to grow.

Hirschhorn told attendees at the briefing that MySpace could grow to 200 million or 300 million and had no plans to stay in the 100 to 120 million user range. According to reports, he declined to offer a time frame for reaching MySpace's new growth targets.

Regardless of its new strategy, MySpace faces a mountain of new challenges. Apart from Facebook and Twitter, major technology players like Google are experimenting with social networking functions, and several music streaming sites and services, chief among them Pandora, are challenging MySpace's role as a go-to for stream-able music content.

MySpace's $900 million search advertising deal with Google also expires in August 2010 -- a fact noted by more than a few attending analysts, Reuters reported.

MySpace was acquired by News Corp. for $580 million in 2005.