July 3rd, 2011
10:57 PM GMT
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(CNN) – Evolve or die.  That’s Darwin’s basic tenet. Failure to adapt to change dooms a living organism to death. In the virtual world of online social networking, the same holds true.

Since it came online in 2004, Facebook has adapted quickest and best. Popularity and profitability have followed: it lays claim to more than half a billion users while a 2012 IPO may value it at more than $100 billion. That’s powered up Facebook to barrel like a juggernaut through online pioneer Friendster and same-niche competitor MySpace, leaving them flattened in its wake.

But they haven’t flat-lined – at least not yet. And in the past few days, we’ve actually seen some twitching in those two online names that you had all but forgotten. But are their moves resurrection signs or merely reflex jerks before rigor mortis? Let’s take a look at what’s recently happened.

Friendster, Est. 2002

The patriarch of online social networking sites as you knew it – if you knew it at all – is no more. If you were a user like me then you would have received an e-mail from Ganesh Kumar Bangah this past weekend. The Malaysian CEO of MOL bought Friendster from its U.S. founders in 2009 for a rumored $26 million. In his weekend letter, he explained the site’s new course of evolution:

“Friendster is in a unique position to take advantage on (sic) the growth of social gaming…that enables its users to create multiple avatars, play games and enjoy rewards.”

So to survive, Friendster is focusing on a social networking niche that stresses play. Its website now advertises avatars and rewards as opposed to those general ‘friendlists’ and recommendations. And in an ironic adaptation for continuance, you can now sign on to the new Friendster using Facebook.

MySpace, Est. 2003

Will star power breathe new life into this dead space? Its CEO Tim Vanderhook hopes so. The ubiquitous Justin Timberlake of boy band ‘N Sync, sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live and Hollywood movie "The Social Network" is now fronting a takeover of this failing Facebook competitor by teaming up with Specific Media.

Last Wednesday, News Corp sold MySpace to the digital media company for a mere $35 million. In 2005 News Corp had paid a reported $580 million.  That’s a 94% drop in sale price. And just after the deal was inked, Specific Media laid off more than half of MySpace’s staff. According to CNET.com, two years ago, MySpace had about 1400 employees. Today it has about 225. That’s a loss of 84% of its workforce.

So how will Timberlake be able to bring sexy back to a skinny, near-lifeless corpse of a site? While Friendster is gravitating to games, MySpace is making a run to music. Says Timberlake:

“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…art is inspired by people and vice versa, so there’s a natural social component to entertainment.”

There’s also a natural social component to criticism. Industry analysts are seriously questioning Timberlake’s business savvy.

Looking ahead, is it simply too late for Friendster and MySpace to evolve after being bashed by the Facebook juggernaut? Is Friendster’s evolution to the gaming industry a good move? And will Justin Timberlake be crying himself a river a year from now?



soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. I tell you the truth

    “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."

    This above line is completely false. Hey Myspace, don't waste your time or money! We don't need another machine created by you to keep us addicted to your gadgets. Your race for the next "big thing" has nothing to do with need, it has everything to do with your lust for power and money. You're dead. Now go away.

    July 4, 2011 at 1:15 am |
  2. lolface

    Do they think Justin is the actual character on the movie social network, because some guy fron n'sync who can't sing worth a crap wont do them any good.

    July 4, 2011 at 2:11 am |
  3. Jimbo

    I hate reading an incorrect article..cnn seems to have a lot of that going on....I joined myspace in April 2004 and it was launched in Summer of the previous year.

    July 4, 2011 at 2:33 am |
  4. modernmagellan

    Hi Jimbo, you're right – thanks very much for the correction!

    July 4, 2011 at 2:44 am |
  5. Archer

    That MySpace needs to roll out star power to try and make a point speaks to its dire circumstances.

    Also, what would "MySpace: The Movie" be like? Lots of possibilities there. Obviously a tragedy. I think if it was done right it would be a more interesting film than "The Social Network".

    July 4, 2011 at 3:20 am |
  6. Sigvatr

    I think MySpace has bought this space on CNN. I saw it a few days ago too and it is old already.

    July 4, 2011 at 5:38 am |
  7. Wobbles

    They're dead Jim.

    July 4, 2011 at 6:41 am |
  8. Here's a Solution!

    MySpace should roll off themselves!

    July 4, 2011 at 8:03 am |
  9. Tak

    My space was never dead in the first place. Facebook is far from good. I dislike that crappy network since day one.

    July 4, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  10. Charles Queen

    I do not have a problem with friendster,in fact I just recently opened up an account with it.I do however have a number of problems with "My Space"It is rift with lot of very rotten sexual content.It is also a very wonderful place to go to if you likr viruses,trojan horses and worms of every type of make and kind.No I do not have an account with them.Way back when they started to get popular I opened up and account with them an shortly there after my password was hacked.Not my user name etc but just my password.So after several attempts to sever an and all ties with them i eventualy suceeded and got my account closed and removed.My advice to anyon thinking about using my space is to stay away from it and use face book or friendster

    July 4, 2011 at 10:04 am |
  11. sydneto

    LOL Facebook, Myspace and all the other crap

    July 4, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  12. Purrrsona

    I quit myspace over a year ago due to being stalked by some canadian freak.
    Dear myspace, please go back to your grave.

    July 4, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  13. Avalanche

    "Jimbo
    I hate reading an incorrect article..cnn seems to have a lot of that going on....I joined myspace in April 2004 and it was launched in Summer of the previous year."

    I hate it when people read an articl incorrectly and then complain about something which they didnt understand. They correctly say that Myspace was "Established" (Est means Established) in 2003 which would have been the previous summer to when you signed up in April 2004. if you dont understand little abbreviations like "Est" then dont comment about it.

    U B IDIOT

    July 4, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  14. peribonca

    The author needs to check up on his facts about evolution. "Failure to adapt to change dooms a living organism to death" . Organisms don't adapt. Species are the ones that adapt through natural selection weeding out unfit organisms within it.

    July 4, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
  15. Payday Loans Services

    It would be very hard for friendste and Myspace to again gain the market after the success of face book. It as acquire so much of market that its very difficult for others to overtake them.

    July 5, 2011 at 7:04 am |
  16. JFB

    @Charles Queen
    dont be hard on yourself, Facebook hates you double :-)

    July 5, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  17. ardy ferdiansyah

    pleasee..save friendster.com!!!
    Friendster !!!!!! Friendster !!!!!! Friendster !!!!!!
    I want the old friendster.com !!!!!!!!!!
    too many memories of the past stored in it
    SAVE FRIENDSTER!!
    years of using friendster.com to communicate with friends, I do not want friendster.com to die

    pleasee..save friendster.com!!!
    acquisition friendster.com!!!

    July 9, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
  18. Argle Bargle

    Am I supposed to feel bad that some scumbags aren't making hundreds of millions for selling out their users to advertisers?

    Awwwww...

    July 11, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
  19. JClay

    Google+.

    July 12, 2011 at 2:28 am |
  20. Modern Mirrors

    Evolve or die. That’s Darwin’s basic tenet. Failure to adapt to change dooms a living organism to death. In the virtual world of online social networking, the same holds true.

    February 29, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  21. icons set

    What excellent topic

    September 22, 2012 at 3:10 am |
  22. icon pack

    Completely I share your opinion. Idea excellent, I support.

    October 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm |

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