MySpace Sale Update –

Pop star Justin Timberlake is part of a group that said Wednesday it will buy MySpace from News Corp., a bid to add some cool to a social network that has been losing it for some time. 

Timberlake will become a part owner and play “a major role in developing the creative direction and strategy for the company moving forward,” according to Specific Media, the company that he will partner with.

The deal is for $35 million, mostly in Specific Media stock, according to a person familiar with the matter. The deal values MySpace at a fraction of what News Corp. paid for the site six years ago and paves the way for the layoff of about half of the 500 workers, the person said. As part of the exchange, News Corp. will receive a private equity stake in Specific Media.


Amazon Drops California In Growing E-Commerce Affiliate Tax Law War

In the ongoing state-by-state battle over tax collection on affiliate website sales, this afternoon Amazon warned thousands of affiliates their revenue streams would be shut off if a tax bill would be signed into law. Mere hours later,Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill, signifying tough times ahead for many online business owners.

States are scrambling for cash, so it’s no surprise they see a pot of gold in e-commerce sales. Brick and mortar sites – such as Wal-Mart – that have failed to grasp the opportunities Amazon created with programs (like Affiliates) are out for blood.

Essentially, certain states have grubbed for tax money by passing laws that expand the definition of physical presence. They are specifically targeting e-commerce sites that work with affiliates – more specifically, websites that partner with Amazon as Affiliates to earn commissions from individual sales.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos believes the actions of the states to be unconstitutional and that this should be resolved at the federal, not the state level.

Last year Colorado signed a new law that extended nexus to e-commerce affiliates. The law required online retailers like Amazon to give Colorado residents a bill on how much they owe in sales tax on web purchases, and provide summaries of individual web purchases to the state. Amazon responded, as like with California, for better or worse, by cutting off its Colorado affiliates.

Score 1 for Amazon!!!

Casting for “Lincoln” Taking Shape

David Strathairn has been set for a key role in Lincoln by director Steven Spielberg. He’ll play William Seward, Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State, an outspoken abolitionist and a core member of Lincoln’s wartime cabinet. He joins Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. The DreamWorks film has been set to begin production this fall in Virginia for a late 2012 release through Disney’s Touchstone label.

Two-time Academy Award winner Daniel Day-Lewis will star as the 16th President of the United States in DreamWorks Studios’ Lincoln to be directed by Steven Spielberg.  Sally Field will also star as Mary Todd Lincoln.”

“Daniel Day-Lewis would have always been counted as one of the greatest of actors, were he from the silent era, the golden age of film or even some time in cinema’s distant future. I am grateful and inspired that our paths will finally cross with Lincoln,” said Steven Spielberg.  “Throughout his career, he has been exceptionally selective in his choice of material,” added Stacey Snider, “which makes us feel even more fortunate that he has chosen to join with us for Lincoln.”

Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Hal Holbrook, James Spader, John Hawkes, Tim Blake Nelson, Bruce McGill and Joseph Cross are in negotiations to join the cast of DreamWorks Studios’ “Lincoln,”As well.  Tony Kushner wrote the script based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals and Kathleen Kennedy is producing with Spielberg.

Smells like Oscars to me!

MySpace: FOR SALE?

An inside source at MySpace disclosed to news sources that over a third of its staff is to be cut in the coming days. At the same time, MySpace may be sold (there are currently 2 bidders) and News Corp is trying to get this deal done by Thursday (!) to make quarter end.  News Corp wants $100 Million (really), but realistically, the bids will be much lower.

Stay tuned…!  In other news…

Over 150 members of staff will be shed this week — according to these insider sources — although the timing has yet to be confirmed with a statement from the company, which is so far not saying anything.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, with nearly half of its staff being let go earlier on this year. 

Though MySpace is not used by the very vast majority of the Generation Y nowadays, the memories of ‘once was’ will resonate through this entire demographic.

It is hard to think of a time without Facebook, but there was. MySpace filled that gap — with flashing animated GIFs as wallpapers and nothing but user generated content; without the need for definitive expression or linear articulation.

News Corporation acquired a sinking ship when it bought it in the first place. But the Generation Y have since said their short goodbyes to the network in favour of more business-oriented and structured sites — particularly Facebook and LinkedIn.

Death of a Threat: Netflix CEO Joins Facebook Board… It Matters (NFLX)

Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) was under some worries before when Facebook announced that it was going to get into video delivery of selected movies.  In a SWOT analysis, the Facebook issue always fell under the O and the T as opportunity and threat alike.  This no longer appears to be a threat.  Facebook has announced today that Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix will join the Facebook board of directors.

MarketWatch has a full backgrounder on the news here.  Facebook is obviously gearing up its team for an upcoming IPO.  It is one of our Top 17 IPOs To Watch in 2011.

Why this matters is complex, yet simple enough.  There was a thought that it is only natural for Facebook to get into digital distribution of films.  The outfit has even announced some limited streaming deals already.

If Facebook wanted to get deep into the video distribution business, it has hundreds of millions accounts already.  The movie studios have already shown over and that they are all just about willing to take the arms-dealer business model and deal with anyone who will pay under a contract to deliver movies.

The only real difference is over who gets the new releases first.  For Facebook to get into the video delivery business, all it has to do is to buy more bandwidth.  Still, partnering with Netflix is a no-cost or low-cost solution that could come with extremely high margins.

Big Blackberry App Producer Bails

Seesmic might have the sweetest Twitter app for Blackberry, but the Blackberry’s appeal isn’t sweet enough. Seesmic is discontinuing support for its Blackberry app on June 30.

Research in Motion, the company that makes the Blackberry, is going through a rough spot right now. But things must be pretty bad if Seesmic bailing. This is Seesmic, folks! They’ll build an app for any platform, evenWindows Phone 7.

The truth is that startups can only support so many mobile platforms. Other mobile developers might be feeling the same pressure to drop Blackberry or never create an app for it in the first place. Seesmic is definitely not alone in its assessment of the platform. Mobile Roadie recently concluded the same thing: the Blackberry is too hard to develop for and engagement is low.

What are Seesmic Blackberry users to do? On its blog, the company encourages “those effected by this change to try out Seesmic for Android, iOS and Windows Phone 7.” In other words, get a new phone.

Taco Bell’s behavioral puzzle – “We haven’t even been able to give away the food, never mind figure out how to sell it online”

Speaking to a group of Northwestern University marketing students, Yum! Brands Chief Public Affairs Officer Jonathan Blum shared the story of recent Taco Bell promotion flop that shows the difficulty the chain has had turning social media into a viable business model. Said Blum: “We haven’t even been able to give away the food, never mind figure out how to sell it online.”

Over the course of a year, the number of friends on Taco Bell’s Facebook page rocketed from 500,000 to 6 million fans. Sounds great. Then, in the middle of an ongoing unflattering lawsuit about the quality of its beef, Taco Bell decided to offer those 6 million fans a free taco — no strings attached. They didn’t need to buy anything. They were already Facebook fans, which means they had already paid the very minor costs of “liking” Taco Bell. It was an offer from a company that Blum says wanted to tell its fans, hey, come and get a free taco.

Two hundred thousand people did. Almost 97 percent on passed on free grub they supposedly “liked.”

Cases like that explain why the bulk of Taco Bell’s marketing budget goes to television (and some radio) ads. Social media remains a small part of the budget because the company hasn’t figured out how, in Blum’s words, to use it to “make the cash register ring.”

Inside Facebook’s Next Billion Dollar Business

Facebook’s road to becoming a $100 billion company is to infect every sector of the internet with its social graph, letting other companies build and expand their business on top of it and taking a toll in exchange for that.

Facebook is now number one in display advertising, which is a $2 billion business for them.

Facebook is the enabler of social games, which is now a multibillion dollar industry, and takes a cut through advertising and credits.

Facebook is staffing up and partnering with Amazon to drive commerce through Facebook.

But the next big endeavor is music, Giga Om says in a report revealing Facebook’s upcoming big social music service.

Here’s how it will look, according to Giga Om: your Facebook homepage will include a Music tab leading to a Music Dashboard where you will be able to listen to music and see what music your friends are listening to.

Facebook will partner with Spotify but also other services to provide the service. There have long been talks of some kind of big partnership between Spotify and Facebook when it launches in the US, but it seems that it’s only a small part of a much broader endeavor to build a huge social music service.

The goal is to do for music what it did for games: use its social graph to help Facebook users discover music and help music startups get users.

At eG8 Forum, Mark Zuckerberg said he thought the next industry to get disrupted by social, after games, would be music, and then movies.

It’s not clear if and how Facebook can make money directly from music. Facebook can take a 30% cut off social games because virtual goods have zero marginal costs. By contrast songs streamed over the internet (at least legally) have high licensing costs; indeed, most internet streaming businesses have unprofitable unit economics. It doesn’t seem likely that internet music startups can afford to pay yet another tollmaster.

However, a music dashboard would get Facebook users to stay on all through the day if that’s where they stream music from, and so they would see a lot more ads.

Also, it’s a nice swipe at Apple if their music service ends up rocking and being really good, given how undewhelming Apple’s own social music service Ping has been. The rivalry between Apple and Facebook is heating up in a big way with Apple integrating Twitter deeply into iOS and Facebook trying to bypass Apple’s app store with an app platform based on HTML5.

Read more:

American Idol Season 11 Audition Schedule

American Idol, television’s No. 1 show, begins its 11th nationwide search for the best undiscovered talent in the country in St. Louis, MO on Tuesday, June 28. The search for the next singing superstar continues in Portland, OR, on Saturday, July 2; San Diego, CA, on Friday, July 8; Pittsburgh, PA, on Friday, July 15; Charleston, SC, on Friday, July 22; Denver, CO, on Friday, July 29; and Houston, TX, on Friday, Aug. 26.

American Idol auditions will be held as follows:


  • St. Louis, MO – Tuesday, June 28 – Scottrade Center


Portland, OR – Saturday, July 2 – Rose Garden

San Diego, CA – Friday, July 8 -Petco Park

Pittsburgh, PA – Friday, July 15 – Heinz Field

Charleston, SC – Friday, July 22 – North Charleston Coliseum

Denver, CO – Friday, July 29 – INVESCO Field at Mile High

Houston, TX – Friday, Aug. 26 – Reliant Park

Full details regarding the St. Louis auditions are below. Specific information on the subsequent audition cities will be announced shortly.

Disney Starts Work on another “Tron” Sequel

In the build-up to the last December’s release of Tron: Legacy, it was abundantly clear that Disney was hoping to kickstart a new franchise after the original Tron laid dormant for almost two solid decades.  Provided that the sequel performed up to par, director Joseph Kosinski seemed likely to return, along with screenwriters Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz.  After six months with little to no movement on another adventure in the Grid, Disney has hired a new writer, David DiGilio, to tackle a hypothetical third Tron film.

THR’s Heat Vision reports that Kitsis and Horowitz were unable to return for another round because of their commitment to the new ABC fantasy series Once Upon a Time, which the duo created and will executive produce.  Interestingly, DiGilio, the writer of the 2006 Paul Walker-sled dog film Eight Below and a graduate of Disney’s writers program, also just got involved in a television series of his own creation.  He recently sold a pitch for a postapocalyptic medical drama titled Last H.O.P.E.(Hospital on Planet Earth) to Showtime.

Tron: Legacy, which starred Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, and Olivia Wilde, grossed $400 million worldwide.  It was also hugely expensive to produce and market, meaning that the profit margin was thin.  As such, Disney has not yet committed to another entry in the series.  Apparently, the decision to go ahead with a David DiGilio-penned sequel will largely depend on the reception to Tron: Uprising, an animated series set to air on Disney XD next year.

That series, commissioned before Tron: Legacy‘s release, bridges the gap between the 1982 original and its 2010 predecessor.  It will feature the voices of Elijah Wood, Mandy Moore, Paul Reubens, and Bruce Boxleitner.  Kitsis and Horowitz are producing.

As for Joseph Kosinski, Disney recently let go of the director’s project Horizons, aka Oblivion, which he is currently developing it at Universal.  Tom Cruise set to star in the science fiction epic, with production scheduled to begin this Fall.  It’s unknown whether that means he would be unable to return to Tron, should a sequel actually come to pass.