Social Media

5 Tough Lessons Former CEO Mike Jones Learned From MySpace

Michael-jonesMichael Jones spent the last two years at MySpace, first as co-president and then as CEO, attempting to turn the company around. Despite a wide range of changes the relaunch never quite worked and Jones left in August as new owners took over. Now he shares the lessons he learned.

When Michael Jones took what probably seemed like a very bad job as co-president at MySpace, ultimately becoming CEO and overseeing the last turnaround attempt, many people wondered why he'd do such a thing. In a piece written for Fortune, Jones stated, "I wanted to know if it could be done — if we could revive a legacy Internet brand that had so many challenges."

Though he did help improve the site and streamline operations from which new owners Specific Media will benefit, he was not able to fully engineer a successful relaunch. Here are the "five lessons [he] learned from the front":

1. Consumers have long brand memories.

"In the end, I believe Myspace would have had a better chance for success if we had relaunched it as an entirely new brand."

2. Utility outlasts entertainment.

"Myspace's entertainment value, with its optional anonymity and its entertainment-focused interest graph, never achieved the same level of utility for consumers [as did Facebook with its social graph]."

3. Perceived momentum = perceived value.

"As of August 2010, Myspace was interacting with over 100 million users a month, generating billions of page views and streaming hundreds of millions of songs. Yet…the market value for Myspace was far below the value placed on many other smaller, yet similar, businesses."

4. Change within large organizations must be centered around drastic actions.

"It was only through major change, a full disruption to the system, that we were able to galvanize the organization around new goals and begin seeing increased efficiencies."

5. Single front door = single point of failure.

"A single front door [to one big site] means there is a single point of failure in consumers' minds — even when the product lines behind it are robust."

Hypebot Readers: Did Michael Jones learn the right lessons or will his interest in "study[ing] how a large media property works from the inside out" lead him to launch a future failure?

Hypebot contributor Clyde Smith is a freelance writer and blogger. He currently maintains a writing hub at Flux Research and periodically blogs at All World Dance and This Business of Blogging. To suggest music services and related topics for review at Hypebot, please contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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  1. Interest graph versus social graph? To my knowledge, MySpace didn’t do anything to leverage the interest graph, which probably has far more behavioral targeting value to advertisers than the social graph.
    Just for starters, MySpace could have applied social recommendation technology to (duh) make social recommendations, to target ads, and to improve the overall user experience. I could go on and on about UX, as there was zero innovation in that area also.
    The people running MySpace were simply asking the wrong questions and attempting to solve the wrong problems.
    On a side note, it’s amazing how much press former MySpace people leverage off of failure?

  2. I have to admit, I found most of what he said unconvincing except for the statements about shaking up large corporations and market response. But those aren’t my areas of expertise.
    For example, I find his comments about one front door a bit confusing unless MySpace users behaved much differently than most web users who rarely use homepages of such sites except to log in. People tend to enter open web sites through all sorts of points of entry via search engines. I usually did through band pages.
    Speaking of failure, myspace and more press:

  3. This is ridiculous. MySpace failed because it got overrun with adds, had too many flashy “graphics” that users were able to add to their own pages making it extremely cluttered, and then made a bunch of changes to their site that made it LESS user-friendly and just overall served essentially no purpose but messed up the site.
    For as much as people complain when Facebook does an overhaul of the site, at least everything usually still works, there isn’t a ton of clutter, and in general it’s still an appealing and easy to navigate layout, etc.
    With MySpace, the old system for profiles and home pages was far better than the current. And with as much emphasis and impact on music as MySpace had… their reasons for completely messing up their music charts were completely inexplicable.
    Some of the last holdouts for MySpace (over Facebook, etc.) were bands looking to promote their music and industry & fans looking for new artists. By changing the old slightly flawed but generally functional chart algorithm into whatever chaotic disaster they have now that is entirely nonsensical, they essentially rendered 100% useless one of the biggest music discovery features on the site (when music discovery was a large draw of the site).
    Also, by taking away the ability to filter these charts by state and/or city. A lot of (smaller, local) bands used to filter the charts by state and/or city to find the top artists that might be a good fit on a show bill in a particular city, or might be able to help them find a show. It also allowed promoters to find high-performing bands in nearby areas when they were looking for artists to book.
    As for the whole profile and home-page redesign… the profile layouts glitch frequently, are annoying to update and don’t have the same flexibility… half the time there seem to be ghost notifications, with the reverbnation plugin – i get every band on my friends lists newsletters to my myspace inbox (a flood of them… dozens or more per day). Oh, and about half the time it freezes my internet browser. Disaster.

  4. Sara, don’t hold back!
    I hadn’t used the site in so long there’s a limit to my critique but thanks for digging in. Talk about a comedy of errors!

  5. Sorry, but the myspace relauch and redesign was the biggest piece of shit I’ve ever seen. In every single detail they did it in the absolutely worst way possible. I’ve always wondered who the idiot is that’s responsible. Now I know. This guy should never be able to find a job again, except at McDonalds maybe.

  6. Myspace Music’s strength were a) “owning” the very long tail of bands and artists, and b) social interaction between artists and fans (and between fans).
    To me, not being able to leverage that into being and remaining the no.1 music network speaks of its DNA.
    Keep in mind that Myspace Music was a joint venture between Myspace (business model around monetizing traffic and pageviews) and the major labels (business model around selling the major’s music).
    Had they focused on their strengths and assets, instead of their legacy revenue models, they would have had a shot and could have then become the main marketplace for music, tickets, merch, etc. for ALL artists.
    Even today, Myspace still owns the most complete registry of bands and artists (with contact info, music, bio, outgoing links, etc.). However this still seems to be an afterthought, not on anyone’s performance dashboard.

  7. Sounds more like he is trying to protect his own ‘brand’ and make excuses for screwing up. He should have just left gracefully as a failure instead of covering his own a$$.

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