Justin Timberlake buys a piece of Myspace
Life imitates art as actor buys into struggling social network – or is it just PR?
Forget Dustin Hoffman going without sleeping or washing for three days to get into character for Marathon Man: the ultimate method actor turns out to be Justin Timberlake.
Feted for his performance as wildchild webgeek Sean Parker in The Social Network, Timberlake has let life imitate art, putting his own money into becoming a dotcom mover and shaker.
The only snag is that he has become an investor not in the latest hip start-up, but in Myspace - the once-mighty blue whale of social networking now beleaguered in the shallows of uncoolness.
News Corp has announced the sale of Myspace to little-known ad-targeting firm Specific Media for $35m, which means Rupert Murdoch's company has lost $545m on the site since it bought it with much fanfare in July 2005 at a cost of $580m. Timberlake is teaming up with Specific to take a stake in what the Guardian calls the "forgotten" internet firm.
According to the Wall Street Journal, News Corp had hoped to get at least $100m but settled for far less after a "saga" that saw the company "hunting for bidders across continents and [holding] talks with personalities as varied as the owner of Penthouse magazine [and] each of [MySpace's] pushed-aside founders, Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson".
Timberlake will also take a creative role in revitalising the site. He issued a statement saying: "There's a need for a place where fans can go to interact with their favourite entertainers, listen to music, watch videos, share and discover cool stuff and just connect. Myspace has the potential to be that place."
It's possible that Timberlake is more window-dressing than creative driving force, brought in by Specific to grab a few headlines and lend some badly-needed street cred to Myspace.
After all, the strength of his commitment is hard to judge: the size of his investment has not been disclosed. ·
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