This evening News Corp chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, and MySpace CEO and co-founder Chris DeWolfe, were the featured speakers at the Web 2.0 Summit. It is the two year anniversary of the News Corp acquisition of MySpace, so there was some discussion on the growth of MySpace and how it is evolving. The pair also discussed, in a roundabout way, aspects of the upcoming MySpace Platform.
Here are some of the highlights of the discussion, with thanks to MySpace for a lot of the background information. Also see TechCrunch's coverage, as they have been following this news since the rumors first surfaced a few weeks ago.
Developer Platform Details Revealed
Tonight MySpace confirmed they will launch a developer platform in the "near term". DeWolfe and Murdoch cited the "original openness and personalization of the MySpace community" as being integral to MySpace's success to date. They also noted that MySpace helped develop the widget eco-system. During the discussion, DeWolfe seemed a little cagey about the concept of openness, but (under pressure from the mighty Marc Canter's questioning) admitted that it is "largely a good thing for users." In the end DeWolfe caved to Canter's persistent questions and said that yes they'll open up! But of course it remains to be seen whether they will, truly.
It was revealed tonight that MySpace will formalize relationships with the developer community and "roll out a new platform in the coming months". The steps to MySpace's developer platform strategy will include:
1) In the coming weeks MySpace is launching a catalogue of all widgets and tools available on MySpace;
2) In "several months" they will make industry standard APIs available through a new platform where developers can try new things in a sandbox environment;
3) MySpace users will have the opportunity to participate in an opt-in beta test program, to determine usability;
4) Users will vote and ultimately determine which of the third party widgets get tightly integrated into MySpace;
5) MySpace will formally introduce the best widgets into the community, with what they term "highly developed integration".
The discussion touched on the MySpace partnership with Skype, which we covered earlier today. Murdoch and DeWolfe noted that Skype is a great example of how they will work with partners to extend the MySpace community into other applications on the Internet. Through this partnership, DeWolfe said, the Skype community can now access their MySpace network and content through the Skype client (and visa versa). DeWolfe at first seemed to imply that this was a form of "openness", but that was quickly shot down by Marc Canter and Battelle.
MySpace Music / Sony BMG
This week MySpace announced a licensing agreement, their first with a music label, with Sony BMG Entertainment. This furthers the "MySpace Music platform", which incidentally was very noticeable in a MySpace party I attended tonight in San Francisco. The party featured some excellent art work and interactive displays of MySpace pages for prominent bands and musicians -- it reinforced that music was what made MySpace popular, and makes it much 'cooler' than Facebook to the young demographic.
The deal is for MySpace and Sony BMG to share in sponsorship and advertising revenues. Sony BMG will license "music videos, select audio material, and other content", so that it's available on its artists' MySpace profile pages. There will also be other promotion by MySpace of Sony BMG artists.
MySpace opens San Francisco Office
The party I attended tonight was a celebration of the new SF office, which will house developers, engineers, sales people. Murdoch said tonight, in answer to a direct question from John Battelle about what he thinks of Silicon Valley, that the valley is full of innovation and disruptive ideas. So the SF office will enable MySpace to "be closer to that action". It will also of course give MySpace access to the abundent engineering talent available in the valley -- watch out Google, Yahoo! and startups!
Above pic by Don Loeb
MySpace is currently active in more than 20 international markets, and they have another 10 on the way - including Russia, India and Poland. Their international HQ will now be London. Also according to the company, MySpace is the number 1 social network in Europe and it's the most trafficked site in the United States. They are reportedly adding 300,000 new users each day. When News Corp acquired MySpace, the company had 10 million unique users - MySpace currently has 110 active global monthly users.
Geeks & Media People Mixing!
Excellent growth and as I mentioned above, MySpace continues to be a favored destination for musicians and music fans. Facebook comes from a college crowd, but MySpace is younger, hipper and - if it delivers on the platform promises - may start to appeal more to developers too. Indeed, at tonight's party it was a strange experience seeing geeks with glasses (I was one of them) mixing with trendy and beautiful people. A.k.a. technology mixing with media. Perhaps that's a sign of things to come with the MySpace platform!