MySpace Lays Off 30 Percent Amid Flat Membership

Flatline (Compete.com via Wired)

Flatline (Compete.com via Wired)

MySpace.com, snapped up by Rupert Murdoch a couple of years ago for half a billion dollars has seen growth flatten amid Facebook‘s soaring popularity and Twitter‘s recent takeoff. So what to do?

Pare down, get lean and get ready to fight. The ad-heavy site, said to be relatively lucrative while Facebook and Twitter continue to resist aggressive monetization, is laying off 30 percent of its workforce, saying the company grew too bloated.

The move comes after MySpace’s new executive team, including CEO and former Facebook-er Owen Van Natta, took over the former No. 1 social media destination about six weeks ago.

The chart above, from Compete.com, puts things in perspective. MySpace is stagnate. Wired is unsure it can make a comeback.

Meanwhile, Twitter growth shows signs of slowing. But — as Wired also points out — when your service is seen as integral to Middle Eastern affairs, you gotta be doing something right.

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Talking Twitter Tuesday on ‘Today’s THV This Morning’

All a Twitter

All a-Twitter

Tired of Twitter yet? Possibly! But the little microblogging service that could is still generating plenty of buzz — some of it not from bored news editors but people legitimately curious about the service and how it might help their business.

At about 6:20 6:40 a.m.-ish on Tuesday, I’ll give a quick primer on Twitter on “Today’s THV This Morning” and, time permitting, how some Arkansas businesses and other organizations are using the service (which we’ve touched on before on this blog and on the radio). Are you suffering from social media fatique and wondering whether Twitter is for you? Hopefully, we can help you answer that question, as well.

Meanwhile, remember you can follow me @LT and Arkansas Business @ArkBusiness. And be sure to sign up with the THV Morning Crew:

@MatthewGCarroll, producer

@BeccaBuerkle, producer

@AlysonCourtney, anchor

@CCrowson016, reporter/anchor

@todaysthv, news

Also

Corporate Blogs and Tweets Must Keep SEC in Mind – WSJ

Oprah and Ashton Will Destroy Twitter – PC Magazine

Numbers Can’t Begin to Describe Twitter’s Impact – Wired

Twitter me this: Wake up and get the Tweets, alderman says – Northwest Arkansas Times

Twitter marketing tips – DoshDosh

Social media: $3.1 billion industry in five years? – eBiz

Entrepreneurs Work to Innovate Journalism Online

Block-rockin' beat journalism

Everyblock: Block-rockin' beat journalism

I’ve said before that it might take entrepreneurs and innovators to find the new model for how journalism will operate online. Today, Crain’s Chicago Business has a video news story on three such innovators and the models they’re trying out. Too bad none of them know how to make money!

First, there’s The Windy Citizen, a Digg-like blog that allows Chicagoans to post and share links to Chicago stories, then vote the best of the best onto the site’s front page. It also boasts a network of more than 40 blogs that cover several aspects of the Windy City. The there’s EveryBlock, which aggregates news stories published by others and serves them to readers based on location. So, if you search for news in the Heart of Chicago neighborhood, the service brings you links to news stories that took place in that neighborhood, local crime reports, local new business filings, real estate listings, public document filings and photos.

Another business, The Printed Blog, aggregates blog content, publishes it in print with advertising, and distributes the finished product in select neighborhoods. Advertising is aimed at local retailers, who are guaranteed hyper-targeted delivery based on neighborhood-level distribution. The New York Times and Wired have done stories.

One of the entrepreneurs in the Crain’s video report on these companies notes that great innovations often come from entrepreneurs who have little to no experience in the field they ultimately transform. That might well be the trick in how journalism makes the digital transition.

Is This the Future of Print? Esquire’s E-paper Cover

Meh.

More

Death of print: Esquire animated cover joins Seinfeld ad in museum of fail

Esquire magazine unveils cover with electronic ink

Esquire: About our cover

Esquire’s e-ink dismantled

Marketing ploy of the year

Wired says: FAIL

Poynter: Esquire’s e-paper demo

The Obama Campaign, Politics in the Mobile Space and Lessons to Learn

Here’s a great story from the Associated Press today (via Wired) on the nuts and bolts of the Barack Obama campaign’s text message strategy, the first of its kind in politics. Regardless of your political persuasion, you’ve got to be fascinated by how the campaign has used new technology to cultivate its base, energize supporters, spread key messages and — most importantly — raise record dollars.

The article looks at Distributive Networks, a small Washington D.C. mobile technology firm that handled the early morning text message announcing Joe Biden as Obama’s running mate. The company wouldn’t say how many people signed up to receive the text message. But Distributive’s CEO, Kevin Bertram, said, “It’s a big number.”

The Obama campaign has worked closely with Bertram’s company, asking for added features in the text messaging campaign – like the ability to text supporters based on their ZIP code, a capability that allows for targeted voter-turnout campaigns.

Once the Obama campaign composed and sent the message, it was largely an automated process. The instant the campaign pushed the button, the message text flashed on Bertram’s laptop.

The CEO said he was “nervous, confident, relieved and sleepy all at once” as he watched the text message move through the system.

Despite a leak that popped the news about Biden before the campaign could, everything else about the move seems to be an unqualified success. The AP notes that overall traffic on Obama’s Web site hit an all-time high on Saturday, and 48,000 people watched streaming video of Obama and Biden’s first joint appearance. And, “by about mid-afternoon, more than $1.8 million had been contributed online.” And, as everyone has noted, Obama has compiled a prized database of names, e-mail addresses, mobile phone numbers and zip codes that he’ll not doubt use from now until Nov. 7 and beyond.

Clearly, the Obama campaign has turned grassroots political action on its head, improving vastly upon what the Howard Dean campaign did in 2004. Of course, social media and the mobile platform has changed dramatically since the last presidential election season. There’s more and better tools out there than four years ago.

But the ability to recognize those changes and quickly understand how to use them to not only raise money but engage voters in a movement has set the Obama campaign head and shoulders above what has come before.

Last week, I had lunch with Blake Rutherford, who was stoked about the fascinating case study all this will provide political campaigns and public relations professionals. The news media also have a lot to learn from Obama’s adventures in the online social spheres and the mobile platform. After all, the Obama campaign is doing nothing less than engaging a target market and spurring that market to action, which is ultimately the goal of publishers and broadcasters everywhere.

And some might say media is starting to learn those lessons. It wasn’t Obama’s message that reached my cell phone first. It was CNN’s.

More

Rolling Stone goes inside Obama’s campaign to examine the team and how it fashioned a modern, technologically savvy presidential campaign

The ‘Wag: Obama picks Biden, let’s CNN tell supporters

R.I.P, HD-DVD

Wal-Mart dealt the death blow to Toshiba’s high-definition DVD format, HD-DVD, last week when it declared it would only carry Sony’s competing Blu-Ray discs and Blu-Ray players. Wal-Mart had always been aware of its temendous influence in the battle, but waited awhile before making a decision.

Now Toshiba appears close to giving in:

Toshiba may pull the plug on its high-definition DVD format but no decision has been made, the Japanese electronics maker said in a statement Monday.

Toshiba Corp. has started a review of its HD DVD business, it said, amid reports by the Wall Street Journal and Kyodo News agency that Toshiba was considering pulling out after losing ground to the competing Blu-ray disc format.

The Journal, citing people familiar with the situation, reported Sunday that the company is likely to pull out early this week.

A Toshiba pullout would signal the almost certain defeat of HD DVD to Blu-ray, which is backed by Sony Corp., five major Hollywood movie studios and others.

Only one format has been expected to emerge as the winner, much like VHS trumped Sony’s Betamax in the video format battle of the 1980s.

This gives home theater buff the green-light to go whole-hog into the winning Blu-Ray format now, right? Wired magazine says not so fast:

This leaves Blu-Ray as the presumptive victor in the irrelevant optical disk format war. It now must face up to the real competition: the continuing success of DVD and the growing popularity of downloads, both on the internet and on-demand cable TV.

As a consumer, the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD war always bothered me. The competing formats could be confusing to shoppers already baffled by the emerging digital/hi-def landscape. (We’ve got Craig O’Neill having to explain it!)

So someone finally coming out on top (Sony or Toshiba, it really didn’t matter) is a good thing.

But Wired is right. The move to on-demand will one day make such physical media irrelevant. Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company, has already announced big upgrades to its HD on-demand offerings, and the satellite TV firms and IPTV providers are also making leaps. When you can access thousands of HD titles with the click of button via your cable, satellite or IPTV provider menu, renting or purchasing plastic discs becomes beside the point.

The new generation of high-definition discs will enjoy a successful run. But it won’t be as profitable as the big DVD boom, and it won’t last near as long.

HD-DVD Death Made Official. Downloads To Kill Blu-Ray Next. | Gadget Lab from Wired.com

(This post also appears on The Ladder.)