A few years ago, MySpace.com was just an idea kicking around a Southern California spam mill. Scroll down to the present day and MySpace is one of the most visited Internet destinations in America, displaying more than 40 billion webpage views per month and generating nearly $1 billion annually for Rupert Murdoch’s online empire. Even by the standards of the Internet age, the MySpace saga is an astounding growth story, which climaxed with the site’s acquisition by Murdoch’s News Corporation in 2005 for a sum approaching one billion dollars. But more than that, it may be the defining drama of the digital era.
In Stealing MySpace , Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Julia Angwin chronicles the rise of this Internet powerhouse. With an unerring eye, Angwin details how MySpace took the Internet by storm by grabbing the best ideas from around the Web, encouraging pinup stars such as Tila Tequila to make their home on its pages and giving everyone freedom to experiment with online identities–including using somebody else’s identity.
Stealing MySpace introduces us to the site’s founders, Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson, who dabbled in computer hacking, online pornography, spam, and spyware before starting MySpace. Although their street savvy, doggedness, and clubbing skills far eclipsed their tech prowess, they stumbled their way to success and soon found themselves at ground zero of a high-stakes war that pitted Rupert Murdoch against his frequent nemesis, the combative Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone. Angwin sheds light on the dizzying backroom deals that allowed Murdoch to snatch MySpace from Viacom’s grasp even as the MySpace founders remained in the dark about their own fate. Then she takes us inside the Murdoch empire as DeWolfe and Anderson lobby furiously to regain control of their creation.
Venturing beyond the business aspects of the story, Angwin also explores the Internet culture, a voyeuristic world in which MySpace must stay one step ahead of amateur pornographers, sexual predators, and “spoofers” who set up fake profiles (Rupert Murdoch himself tolerates dozens of phony “Ruperts” on the site) and cope with the general excesses and sometimes illegal acts of a community of account holders equal in number to the population of Japan.
In Stealing MySpace , Julia Angwin dishes on the epic real-world battle for control of a virtual empire. In a savvy, smart, fast-paced narrative reminiscent of Bryan Burrough and John Helyar’s Barbarians at the Gate and Michael Lewis’s The New New Thing, Stealing MySpace tells is the whole gripping story behind a breakout cultural phenomenon.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of Business & Economics eBook: Stealing MySpace|
|Release Date: 03-17-2009|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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Richard Rosenblatt’s heart was pounding with nervous anticipation as he climbed a private staircase on the Fox Studios lot in Los Angeles. It was the warm afternoon of July 12, 2005. On the Fox lot, the low buildings of the Fox TV and movie soundstages and offices were dwarfed by the high-rise jungle known as Century City. With his deep tan, athletic figure, and casual attire, Rosenblatt looked like he might be on the lot for an audition. But Rosenblatt was there to sell News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch on his version of the digital future.
Rosenblatt had arrived early for his meeting. Murdoch’s office was in a modern glass-and-steel office building that, to many visitors, looked woefully out of place next to the graceful 1930s building that housed the historic 20th Century Fox movie production offices. As he waited in the ground-floor cafeteria, with sunlight streaming in through the sliding glass doors, Rosenblatt tapped out an e-mail on his BlackBerry to a friend: “At murdochs’ . . . going in soon. Friggen nervous.”
Finally an aide came to usher him up the back stairs that led from the cafeteria to Murdoch’s office on the fifth floor. Ross Levinsohn, Murdoch’s genial head of Internet strategy, was waiting for Rosenblatt outside Murdoch’s office. Levinsohn put his hand on Rosenblatt’s arm. “If you want to sell your company to us, now is the time to do it,” Levinsohn said.
As soon as Rosenblatt stepped into Murdoch’s spacious neutral-toned office suite, he wondered whether he should have worn a suit after all. Against the advice of his colleagues, Rosenblatt had decided to wear ...