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MySpace's Opportunity

The Times has a long article on MySpace today, and the discussion is burning up Memeorandum on this lazy Sunday. There's not a ton that's new in the article, but there are some interesting tidbits.

One of the interesting points in the article is about how MySpace founder Chris DeWolfe and FIM President Ross Levinsohn have differing ideas about how to make money on MySpace; see Mathew Ingram's good summary for the details.

What's more important than the disagreement between DeWolfe and Levinsohn, though, is nicely summarized by Umair, in an old post:

how will [MySpace] "monetize" it's success.

If there's one single lesson I can give you these days: do not ask this question. It is the wrong question.

Business models at the edge - in fact, most great business models - happen. They're emergent; the result of doing, learning, and doing again.

That's why focusing on analysing which business models will "work" will kill you dead when discontinuous changes are tearing your industry apart. (emphasis mine)

So: experiment, fail fast, lather, rinse, repeat. Frankly, given how new the problem of effectively monetizing a huge social network like MySpace is, it would concern me more if Levinsohn and DeWolfe were on the same page. In situations like this, productive conflict is a good thing.

Times journalist Saul Hansell touches on what likely needs to happen for MySpace to become a monstrous financial success:

The bigger opportunity, however, is not so much selling banner ads, but finding ways to integrate advertisers into the site's web of relationships. Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers, for example, created a profile for the animated square hamburger character from its television campaign. About 100,000 people signed up to be "friends" with the square.

It's a message to advertisers: they're going to have to get better at channeling Seth Godin, creating purple cows worth talking about, and giving MySpacers social currency.

It's thus MySpace's job to figure out how to build an unintrusive revenue layer on top of the web of relationships and leave the 1.0 business models and contextual ads in the dust.

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Note: Although I work for FOX Interactive, I have no inside information about MySpace's growth, traffic numbers, revenue, etc. As always, these opinions are mine alone.

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Hi, I'm Kareem Mayan. I co-founded eduFire, an online video tutoring company.

I've done time at ESPN and FIM.

I advise WorldBlu, helping them build democratic companies.

I moderated a council for Creative Good.

And, I helped bring Barcamp, a technology un-conference, to LA, which is where I live. I am now living and working in cool cities around the world.

More about me.

Opinions stated here are mine alone.

Contact: blog -at- reemer


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