Wednesday, June 17

Retooling Spin: MySpace Layoffs

"Simply put, our staffing levels were bloated and hindered our ability to be an efficient and nimble team-oriented company. I understand that these changes are painful for many. They are also necessary for the long-term health and culture of MySpace." — Owen Van Natta, chief executive for MySpace

That is the message being floated by MySpace in the face of layoffs that will leave 420 employees jobless. But one wonders if that is what has really happened to MySpace or whether some observers are right in saying that the portal approach cost the company its lead position in the United States.

Or, perhaps others are right in saying that MySpace was overshadowed by the fast-paced migration of Internet nomads to Facebook, which doubled its membership to 70 million users while MySpace was losing 3.4 million. Worse, lost members only tell part of the story. Tracking MySpace over the last year reveals a steady drop in activity by the people who have stayed.

The trend began late last year after a long period of flatness. Indicators such as reach, page views, and page views per user have all declined by 50 to 80 percent in the last 360 days. It was one of many reasons while some social media tacticians were setting up MySpace pages at a premium, we needed a compelling reason to recommend the platform.

The real issue is probably platform simple over staff nimble; ease-of-use over innovation.

Simplicity continues to be the number one attracter in a country of voyeurs over content creators. So while MySpace was developing MySpace Music, which did less than impress, Facebook focused on simplifying everything from its message service to friend connections. Simply put, it's easy to join Facebook; MySpace takes some work.

While Facebook has also had its share of missteps, usually centered around sweeping changes that prompt members to remind Mark Zuckerberg that Facebook is more their network than his, MySpace is now faced with a communication mess that will be not be cleared up by uttering "whoops." Layoffs, after a year-long lingering decline, are an admission that something ought to have been fixed some time ago and now employees and investors will be left to pay the price.

Assuming MySpace can reinvent itself after what it calls a complete reset, the next question it will have to address is how to overcome the communication damage. It will likely take some time to overhaul the network without alienating its members, which can only mean more trouble ahead while people wait and wonder what's next.

So what's next? Here are a few ideas...

MySpace: After the Layoffs, Here’s What’s What and What’s Next by Kara Swisher

What Will MySpace Become After A 30% Headcount Reduction? by Scott M. Fulton

MySpace Isn’t Done Yet: Big International Layoffs Come Next by Michael Arrington



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