Can Justin Timberlake bring MySpace's SexyBack?

The actor/singer has taken a stake in the beleaguered social network. Although even a sprinkling of stardust from someone like Timberlake might not be enough to turn this one around...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 02 Aug 2011
Did Justin Timberlake take his role as an internet entrepreneur in The Social Network a little too seriously? The pop/film star has just taken a stake in MySpace, along with US digital advertising group Specific Media, in a deal worth an estimated $35m (£22m). Apparently, Timberlake is planning to play a significant role in trying to turn the once all-conquering social network around, overseeing plans to turn it into an entertainment ‘hub’ where artists and fans can share videos and music. We’ll believe it when we see it…

Back in 2005, when Facebook didn’t have its own film and Twitter was only slightly more than a twinkle in its creators’ eyes, News Corp bought MySpace for a whopping $580m. Since then, though, users have left the site in their droves, moving over to its cleaner, more innovative competitors. Various attempts at trying to catch up with some of the whizzier features offered by Facebook et al didn’t do much to help.

The one group that has yet to defect, though, are musicians, who use the site’s rather natty music player to showcase their songs, and use their MySpace as a cheaper, easier alternative to websites to list gigs and stay in touch with fans. So the site’s new plan, to turn the website into (as Timberlake gushed) ‘a place where fans can go to interact with their favourite entertainers, listen to music, watch videos, share and discover cool stuff and just connect,’ could yet be its saving grace.

MySpace is clearly an organisation in serious flux; just after the deal was announced yesterday, it made 450 redundancies, while CEO, Mike Jones, said he was stepping down immediately (though he’ll stay on for the next two months as an adviser). With that in mind, there’s already been plenty of speculation about whether Timberlake’s appointment is a sensible one. As Kara Swisher, from AllThingsD, put it: ‘Maybe they should focus on making products the star first’. But only time will tell whether his appointment was Justified…

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