In concurrence with its move from News Corp. to Specific Media, Myspace fired half of its employees according to a report in The Wall St. Journal.
Myspace's new management lobbed off more than half of its 450 employees, leaving it with approximately 200. This is a far cry from when the social network employed 1,400 employees in its Beverly Hills, Calif. base.
The layoffs don't come as a surprise as Specific Media and its partner, singer/actor Justin Timberlake, will try to rebrand Myspace into something completely different.
Timberlake is an interesting choice to take over Myspace as part owner. The media mogul transitioned from a career in pop music to an acting career. His first major role was Napster and Facebook co-founder, Sean Parker in The Social Network.
There's a need for a place where fans can go to interact with their favorite entertainers, listen to music, watch videos, share and discover cool stuff and just connect. Myspace has the potential to be that place, Timberlake said in a statement. Art is inspired by people and vice versa, so there's a natural social component to entertainment. I'm excited to help revitalize Myspace by using its social media platform to bring artists and fans together in one community.
According to a media report, Timberlake will be hands on with his new role as part-owner of Myspace. He will have his own office and a staff of six people. Specific Media chief executive Tim Vanderhook said he hopes Timberlake and his company can turn Myspace into a digital hub of entertainment.
According to a report from The USA Today, Vanderhook said Myspace needs immediate restructuring because of cost structure. Back in 2008, Myspace had revenue of approximately $600 million. According to News Corp.'s most recent financials, it was part of a group that lost $165 million in revenue for the company.
The once powerful social network site, which launched in 2003, at one point had 100 million users and seemed destined to thwart the up-and-coming threat of Facebook. It sold for a whopping $580 to News Corp. in 2005, a price that now seems insane.
Many have said Myspace failed to provide enough support for developers to create compelling products that would keep people on the site ala Facebook. Most of the products were created in-house and were often too buggy and slow to compete with the ones being provided by Facebook.
Rumors of Myspace's ultimate demise were swirling around the internet as many thought News Corp. would fail to unload the social network. A few players, like MySpace co-founders Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe, led an investor group that may have had some interest, but overall nothing materialized until this. There was an even rumored end date for the social network.
As part of the deal News Corp. will maintain a five percent stake in Myspace and Myspace's current CEO Mike Jones will step down.
Myspace did not respond to a request for comment.
Follow Gabriel Perna on Twitter at @GabrielSPerna