Before Myspace came about, dedicated social media websites weren't really a thing, at least like they are today. Sure, there was email and instant messaging to keep in contact with your friends and family around the world. But that was a closed communication. You were Person A, and whoever you were talking to was Person B. Of course, there were methods of communicating in groups. Forums were still a thing back in 2003. But forums were specialized, and did not allow for much customization in showing off the members, so much as specific discussions. There was a need in the internet market for a website that would combine the easy-to-follow conversations of forums, the instant gratification of messaging and email, and the ability to personalize and customize one's profile. Myspace was the first major website to fulfill these needs.
After recognizing the types of attributes that people would want in a social networking site, several eUniverse employees started throwing a project together, and ended up coding most of the framework for the original Myspace website in 10 days. Among these employees was everybody's first friend, Tom Anderson, or as he is commonly referred to, Myspace Tom.
Myspace quickly grew due to some marketing from the eUniverse employees who created the site. Emails were sent to over 20 million people, and the company also had contests to see which employees could refer the most people to the site. In particular, the site became very popular among teenagers and young adults.
In 2005, the site really started to take off, and was bought by Intermix Media for $580 million, which was a ground-breaking amount of money for an internet business at the time. Even after the purchase, the site continued to grow and grow. Around this same time, other social networking websites tried to launch themselves onto the scene and attempt to reach thresholds in this multimillion dollar marketplace. Among them was Facebook. However, at least at first, none of these alternative social networking sites had any effects. It seemed like Myspace couldn't be touched, and nothing could diminish it's popularity. For a brief period of time, Myspace even overtook Google as the #1 visited website in the world.
The Fall of an Empire
And so, if with all of this publicity and more than 100 million users, how could Myspace possible fail? Well, put simply, Facebook started to catch on to people beyond just the college crowd it was originally intended for. What really killed Myspace though, was an advertisement deal with Google, which required more ads to be placed all over the site. This resulted in slower load time for pages, as well as a more generally confusing site layout.
You see, what really made Myspace special in the first place, its user customization options on profile pages, is really what ended up making people turn away and use Facebook. With ads littered all over the place, and an assortment of sloppy profile pictures, the simple and clean design of Mark Zuckerberg's site was the far more appealing option.
Slowly but surely, Facebook crept up in Alexa web rankings, eventually overtaking Myspace in early 2008. That initial overtaking became big news, and suddenly Myspace began to plummet as far as traffic goes. In 2009, the company laid off 30% of its employees in the United States. In 2010, the website lost 156 million dollars. It was put up for sale the next year. It finally found a buyer with celebrity Justin Timberlake, who has tried to change the direction and reputation of the site, focusing more on being a platform for upcoming music artists.
And as for Myspace Tom... he's still active on Facebook and Twitter.