Justin Timberlake apparently wasn’t satisfied with just playing a social media impresario in the movies, so now he’s becoming one in real life.
Timberlake, 30, who played Napster co-founder Sean Parker in “The Social Network,” a movie about Facebook, has joined Specific Media in buying its downtrodden rival, MySpace, from News Corp. in a deal that closed Wednesday.
News Corp., the parent company for Fox News, has sold struggling social networking site MySpace for $35 million, mostly in stock, according to a person familiar with the matter. The deal values MySpace at a fraction of what News Corp. paid for the site. The sale to online advertising network operator Specific Media is expected to close later Wednesday.
Timberlake will have an office at MySpace’s Beverly Hills headquarters and a staff of about a half dozen people working for him “around the clock” developing his ideas for the site, said Specific Media CEO Tim Vanderhook.
The partners are set to unveil their plans for reviving the flagging site in a couple of months.
“When we met with Justin and we discussed what our strategy was, we hit a chord with him,” Vanderhook told The Associated Press. “One of his passions is he really enjoys helping other artists and creating a community for people to really express themselves. I think we were blown away that we were able to get someone like Justin to be so excited about what we were doing.”
The deal is for $35 million, mostly in Specific Media stock, according to a person familiar with the matter. That’s a small fraction of the $580 million that News Corp. paid for the site six years ago. The sale resulted in the layoff of about half of the site’s remaining 500 workers, said the person, who was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
With Timberlake’s help, the buyers hope to revitalize MySpace and transform it into a destination for original shows, as well as bolster its already available video content and music. Vanderhook said the revamp will include additional investment in technology and maintain the right to stream music through the joint venture it has with major recording companies, MySpace Music.
“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,” Timberlake, an Emmy and Grammy winning artist, said. “MySpace has the potential to be that place.”
MySpace launched in 2003, founded by entrepreneurs Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson, who is every MySpace user’s first friend. It became a popular Internet destination and a key way for little-known musicians to market themselves and interact with their fans.
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