The Internet is a cruel, cruel business in which if you’re not going up, you’re going down, a decline which nobody has yet been much able to reverse. But over the last few days PR people have been frantically staging a roll-out of a new plan for MySpace and a series of “first” interviews with the company’s new co-CEOs, Jason Hirschhorn and Mike Jones.
First question: Do the reporters receiving these calls from the PR people and then actually doing interviews with the co-CEOs really believe MySpace has a hope in hell? (And, if so, on what evidence of one-time Internet category-killers bludgeoned and drubbed by their competitors accomplishing a turnaround?) They don’t, but they write a breathy piece filled with all sorts of hoped-for nonsense anyway. “Users will be able to categorize and filter music, pictures and Internet links in a live ‘stream,’ sharing and referring them with online friends,” writes the Financial Times
, as far as I can figure, meaninglessly.
Second question: Does MySpace’s parent company, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., actually believe its new co-CEOs, the third and fourth CEOs at MySpace within little more than a year, can effect a turnaround? News Corp. knows so little about and has played so unsuccessfully in the Internet space that maybe it does believe this. But probably not. More likely, what it is trying to do is to use energetic PR and the lazy good-will of technology reporters to position the company for some kind of sale. For one thing, if you really believe in a turnaround, you do it more quietly: You want to hold down expectations, you want to do something first, and then surprise people with your accomplishment. MySpace’s present initiative seems more road show-like. It’s inviting a discussion. (And, in the short term, it’s a strategy for helping News Corp.’s share price.) Of note, Jon Miller is the News Corp. executive in charge of MySpace. He was, previously, the executive in charge of a crippled and failing AOL, executing a strategy there that can only be called beating a dead horse.
Third question: What’s with co-CEOs? No serious company has co-CEOs. Only the most anomalous management structure has ever succeeded with them. Essentially it means, you couldn’t make up your mind. Or you don’t care. Or you can’t tell the difference between them. That’s what this feels like, a couple of undifferentiated kids who don’t have any real authority anyway, so what the hell. So what you’ve got is a company in the throes of profound crisis of identity, strategy, and technological acumen, without clear leadership. Yes, good move.
Fourth question: What’s with the picture in USA Today
of these two co-dweebs, one with the other in a headlock? Man.
More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWolffNYC.