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


  1. Interesting, indeed.

    But that’s par for the course nowadays.
    I don’t think MySpace is dead, just trimmed to reflect reality.
    Nothing lasts forever, but in today’s high tech speedway the longevity tops off after a few years. It almost seems like the same people are using these networks. Like air in a balloon, squeeze it on one side and it moves to the other.

    In time we will read the same about Twitter and Facebook when the next future must-have social network springs into action.

  2. Of course MySpace isn’t dead. And GeoCities wasn’t dead either, but it ceased being relevant and that’s the doom that threatens MySpace. The walled garden approach didn’t work for AOL, either. The only reason many are still on AOL is that they can’t figure out how to move their stuff off of the service.

    Same with MySpace. The ones that haven’t abandoned the place can’t figure out where to make a free website and move all their stuff. Many migrate over time, having a Facebook page and a MySpace page. Then the MySpace page gets forgotten. I like the balloon analogy, Jimmie.

    You’ll notice that most of the free website webpages can be summed up in a single, albeit rather longish, page.

    Well, now comes the Opera plugin that once you get online, you keep that window open and it acts like a server, serving up a page that connects with everyone who wants to connect with you. Uh, pretty much like you’re hosting your own webpage, plus the other instant connect widgets you like. I haven’t tried it, but this could very well be the ultimate in free websites. Perhaps backed up somewhere if your machine is offline, but updated when you’re there. It’s the ultimate in personal portals. Essentially the opposite of community. Only with all the connectivity of stuff like Twitter and other connectivity apps, it’s an idea where you have a page pointing to all the good stuff you like.

    The free web page concept is still valid but it’s aging.

  3. Walt said, “… The walled garden approach didn’t work for AOL, either. The only reason many are still on AOL is that they can’t figure out how to move their stuff off of the service.”

    Quoted for truth. You nailed that, sir.

    I am sure those folks can explain to me why they still use a limited “walled garden” service, but I’m at a loss to believe it. Hmm… whatever works, I guess… until they take it away ( i.e., digital conversion, VHS, CRT sets, Compuserve, et.)

    I’m feeling guilty about my forgotten MySpace & ComicSpace pages. Perhaps I should give them some love.

  4. I will always love ComicSpace. It launched almost a year before it had the technology to make it useful and as a result, it was abandoned by the users long before it could realize its potential. To this day, I shake my head at how much potential was lost by their rash debut. The comics community actually stuck with ComicSpace for MONTHS, which may as well have been YEARS in internet time. So much time, patiently waiting for a featureless website to make itself useful.

    As for MySpace, it aggressively drove itself into the ground, chasing only the basest, most fickle users; alienating level-headed non-ADD people who just wanted to use the damn service. It could have remained useful if they were able to retain their musical focus, but it falls apart when the community that binds users to the music and thus the service becomes unappealing and unattractive.

    Facebook and Twitter are in a race to the bottom. Minimizing my participation in both. On the internet, “it’s cool to be the player, but it sucks to be the fan.” All of the above websites are designed to communicate but on a large scale, the communication is largely one way–information is generated by the popular and disseminated among the unpopular. Eventually people catch on that Their comments, emails, links, etc are not being read by the other people on their friend lists, particularly the bigger fish. When a website is driven by users sharing content, it falls apart as the users realize that they’re performing for a far smaller actual audience than they initially thought. On Twitter, I have a bunch of people who I’ve never exchanged a single word with. People who I’m sure have me blocked or screened out or something. Facebook may be even worse for this. Once you get into the settings, you can “dial down” people of your choosing, effectively keeping them beholden to you without paying any attention to them.

    I’m sad to read that YouTube is doing poorly, but what do I know about these things. YouTube is interesting because it encourages creation, but enjoyment isn’t diminished for those who just use it to watch things. Users needn’t feel compelled to communicate, which is nice.

    Finally, “The free web page concept is still valid but it’s aging.” – Mr. Walt Stone.
    I feel like the free web page has the potential to have a second wind. The kids who grew up on MySpaceBook aren’t necessarily keen to give up on it, for example. I think what will happen is that people will rethink what they want these pages to be about and how they interact with them.