As reported widely yesterday, MySpace, the once ascendant social networking site, laid off over 400 people yesterday — a third of its workforce — in the same month that it announced that rival Facebook had surpassed the Fox-owned site in number of users.
According to Comics Alliance, the layoffs included the people running MySpace Comics, a once lively site that had presented regular original content, including Cup O’ Joe (now moved to CBR) and MySpace Dark Horse Presents, an online anthology series by top name creators. That feature’s fate has long been the topic of much speculation given MySpace’s stagnating fortunes, and the departure in an earlier round of layoffs of Sam Humphries, who spearheaded the comics effort. Dark Horse is still deciding what to do with the feature,
According to a Dark Horse spokesman, “We are currently gathering information on the future and direction of the site to determine whether or not this kind of program will continue to make sense there. However, even before yesterday’s news, we had already begun discussions on the future of Dark Horse Presents, and are working on ideas on what will now be the appropriate venue to continue what has been a very successful program for Dark Horse and all of the creators who have participated thus far.”
MySpace DHP gave rise to several well-received print collections and an Eisner win for Best Digital Comic for Sugarshock by Joss Whedon and Fabio Moon, so continuing the anthology somewhere would seem to make a lot of sense.
Meanwhile, The LA Times had a lengthy analysis of MySpace’s business stumblings. The perceived missteps are numerous. Some observers say it clung too long to a “portal strategy,” in which it sought to amass an audience around entertainment content.
By contrast, Facebook maintained its focus on features that enhance the social-networking experience, such as the “News Feed” that matches the immediacy of Twitter’s staccato updates. “The speed with which a company like Facebook is able to innovate and keep things fresh is the key to survival in this space,” said Charlene Li, founder of Altimeter Group, a research firm specializing in social networking. “There are new things like Twitter that come along. What does Facebook do? It does Twitter . . . and it does it better.”
With Myspace ditching the “portal” concept, it sounds like Myspace Comicbooks was already on the way out. See also this Crain’s piece. It’s hard to believe Fox head Rupert Murdoch was once seen as a visionary for buying MySpace, isn’t it now?
Meanwhile, new social web darling, Twitter, has yet to show a way of earning any money, and YouTube’s losses are a party game:
Technology consultants RampRate Inc. projects YouTube’s operating losses this year at $174.2 million — far below the $470.6 million estimated by Credit Suisse analysts Spencer Wang and Kenneth Sena in an April research report that became a hot topic on Wall Street and the Internet.
The dueling forecasts are the latest twist in a guessing game that has intrigued investors since Google bought YouTube for $1.76 billion in late 2006.
Although YouTube has become an even more popular diversion since the Google deal, it still hasn’t proven it can make money.
Mountain View-based Google has acknowledged YouTube isn’t profitable, but has refused to provide any specifics, leaving it to outsiders to figure out