Commentary

Google 'Groupes' For A Social Strategy -- But Should It Include Myspace?

No one ever reads, or comments on, my columns to do with Myspace. But, since hope springs eternal, let me try again. Here's a thought: What if Google bought Myspace?

See? Throw Google into the sentence and everything starts to change! I put Google in the mix not just because it's a craven ploy to get you to read this column, but because the idea of it's buying Myspace was actually floated by Gawker, after News Corp. COO Chase Carey 'fessed up at the Reuters Global Media Summit that Myspace was on the block. (He more or less said so on the company's fiscal Q1 earnings call a few weeks ago, but not as many people noticed.)

Valley Wag added two and two together, but I can't figure out if its calculations equaled four -- or five. For one, as Gawker reasoned, Google appears to keep stalling on Google Me, its social product, originally slated for launch this year. Second, you may have noticed it just made a $6 billion bid for Groupon, the social shopping site, which means that, if nothing else, it wants to be in on social commerce. So how badly does Google want Groupon? Its bid is roughly four times GroupOn's valuation, per The New York Times, which underscored the size of the bid with this great soundbite from Forrester retail analyst Sucharita Mulpuru: "A multibillion-dollar valuation for a company that is in a business with virtually no barriers to entry and is younger than my toddler is absurd." Which, I guess, is why Google would buy Myspace ---because it's silly season in social networking.

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If Google wants in that badly, it could buy Myspace on the cheap, keep realizing whatever search revenue there is in perpetuity, instead of on a contract-to-contract basis, and shove the whole thing under the rug if it doesn't work. Surely, it would not have to pay anywhere close to $6 billion. With traffic and revenue steeply declining at Myspace, it would cost less than the $580 million News Corp. paid for it back in 2005, when people still cared about it.

But there are actually sounder reasons to buy Myspace besides the mere fact that Google has the money: Google Music, and, to a lesser extent, Google TV. Myspace's recent redesign, not surprisingly, centers on entertainment content. While some of that focus is just an attempt to claim a position, it's very real when it comes to music. which Google is trying to get into with an iTunes-like product (a project that, like Google Me, also seems to be delayed). Apple, of course, has the music-themed social net Ping, so Google could do worse than to have a social append to practically everything it does going forward. Starting with Myspace is better than starting from scratch.

As far as Google TV is concerned, the thing needs glue of some sort, as the broadcast networks have extracted themselves from it as quickly as humanly possible. Owning a content-driven social network wouldn't hurt, even if Google TV ends up being the Edsel of 2010 -- which it probably will.

And then, there's this: as the tepid response to every Myspace column I've ever written indicates, the social net isn't viewed as worthy of attention. But, just like the plain Jane who suddenly catches the eye of the high school quarterback, attach it to Google, and suddenly things change. In the short term, that's only good for Myspace, but in the long-term Google, given its surprising social awkwardness, might benefit as well.

6 comments about "Google 'Groupes' For A Social Strategy -- But Should It Include Myspace? ".
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  1. Amy Moore from AmysWinningWays, December 3, 2010 at 10:12 a.m.

    How about we get rid of MySpace altogether? All I've gotten off of there lately is invites to join the Change Myspace Back to the Way it was cause. Of course Myspace is on the block. They've messed it up so bad that people don't like it, don't want to use it and really just don't care. Even my teenagers(formerly diehard Myspace users) have stopped using it.

  2. David Trahan from Mr Youth, December 3, 2010 at 10:14 a.m.

    I'd like to first say that I love you for using Google as a way to get me to read this and blatantly admitting it. I'm a huge fan of humorous transparency.

    Although I do like this idea, something tells me that MySpace's partnership with Facebook would prohibit any type of sale to Google since FB and good ol' Googs aren't playing nice right now.

    I personally feel that Google needs to focus on saving up to buy Microsoft.

  3. Jill Tooley from Quality Logo Products, December 3, 2010 at 10:27 a.m.

    I think that, in theory, MySpace and Google would certainly mash up well. You brought up some interesting points about Google TV and Google Music...MySpace does seem to already have what Google lacks. However, I have to agree with David's comment: MySpace's recent partnership with Facebook would probably prevent this from ever happening. This Google-Facebook battle is going to be fascinating to watch as it progresses!

  4. Latease Rikard from LMR Publishing, December 3, 2010 at 10:40 a.m.

    I love that line, "Google TV the Edsel of 2010," I will have to use that as a status update! great article by the way and I promise to read all your articles about MySpace in the future.

  5. Rich Ullman from Outbrain, Inc., December 3, 2010 at 10:43 a.m.

    MySpace is the Geocities of its generation. If Google were to buy it, they would be planning to become the Yahoo of the next generation.

    Ok... so the second metaphor is a little bit of a stretch, but maybe you get my point. It makes no sense to me. Groupon ties Google's local nuggets together. Myspace does nothing but create undesirable inventory.

    See Cathy? We read you. :)

  6. Steve Sarner from Tagged, December 3, 2010 at 11:48 a.m.

    My new goal will be to read and comment on any social media article that is not about Facebook, Twitter or Foursquare. : )

    There's been some really good and fair points made so far.

    Whie it seems that most (all?) people that read Media Post don't use and/or like MySpace it is still a top 25 site in the U.S. according to Quantcast with about 40MM monthly visits. So maybe it isn't you - but there's still a lot of people that use the site. Perhaps - as they refocus on their core value of music and entertainment discovery - their decline will stop and possibly even reverse. Time will tell.

    As far as Google acquiring them....interesting angle. The music aspect is particularly intriguing. Probably too much "baggage" for it to happen but not really that far fetched. More likely - I'd expect the Private Equity firms to keep an eye on what's is happening at Bebo and if it can get turned around maybe there would be interest from that segment in a MySpace.

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