Tom Anderson, best known as the default friend on MySpace during its early years, co-founded MySpace with Chris DeWolfe in 2003. For years, it was the world’s most-visited social network. In 2005, News Corp. acquired the hot Internet property for $580 million.
MySpace would thrive for another year or two, but it wasn’t long until trouble hit the social network. Facebook beat MySpace as the #1 social network in early 2009 (just two-and-half years ago) and soon the site’s traffic fell off a cliff. After several layoffs and failed attempts to save MySpace, it was eventually sold for just $35 million to Specific Media and Justin Timberlake.
Tom Anderson, who never has to work again, rarely speaks out about the decline of the company he founded, but earlier today he broke his silence on a Google+ thread, explaining not only his thoughts on Google+, but on the failed vision of MySpace.
“My original vision for [MySpace] was that everything got better when it was social — so I tried to build all the super popular things used on the web (blogs, music, classifieds, events, photos) on top of MySpace’s social layer,” Anderson explained in his post. He then reveals that, after years of success, he “choked” and Facebook seized on his vision.
But Anderson thinks Google has the opportunity to truly realize his original vision. “Google+ really seems to be primed to make good on that original premise — that everything gets better when it’s social. And unlike [Facebook], Twitter, or anyone else, Google already has the most advanced set of products. And if I can clearly see where this is headed, then I think what we are getting is a much better Google.”
We’ve included Anderson’s Google+ message in its entirety. Let us know if you agree with him in the comments.
“Google+ seems like a “reaction” to Twitter/Facebook. But are you starting to see the ways that Google+ just makes Google a better, more integrated set of services? Google already has top-notch products in key categories–photos, videos, office productivity, blogs, Chrome, Android, maps and (duh) search. Can you start to see/imagine what Google+ does for Gmail? Picassa? Youtube? Not to mention search? The +1 system that Google now has control of (unlike Facebook Likes) can really influence and change the nature of their search.
My original vision for MS was that everything got better when it was social–so I tried to build all the super popular things used on the web (blogs, music, classifieds, events, photos) on top of MySpace’s social layer. When Yahoo launched 360, MSN launched Spaces, and Google launched Okrut, I was shakin in my boots. But quickly I saw that it’s really hard to layer in social to features after the fact. At MySpace we had the luxury of having social first, and building the products on top of that layer. Then I choked and Facebook realized that vision.
But Google+ really seems to be primed to make good on that original premise–that everything gets better when its social. And unlike FB, Twitter, or anyone else, Google already has the most advanced set of products. And if I can clearly see where this is headed, then I think what we are getting is a much better Google. Does that kill FB/Twitter? Who cares? I’d use all 3, but more importantly, I’ll be using Google products I never used, or use them in new, better ways I never used them before.