Rupe's Tough Love for MySpace: Kissing Up to Zuckerberg
The head of Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, must be swelling even larger after the comment News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch made at the very end of an extended interview he gave to The Wall Street Journal yesterday. In very short order, the feisty media baron managed to compliment the 20-something’s social-networking site while simultaneously delivering a mild slap to his company’s own MySpace.
The long interview was full of all sorts of information about Murdoch’s record as a media mogul, of great interest in the wake of his recent efforts to fork over $5 billion to get control of Dow Jones to realize his long-held dream of owning The Wall Street Journal. The Journal reporters asking the questions focused mostly on Murdoch’s reputation for meddling with the editorial side of his media properties.
No surprise, he seemed to suffer some memory lapses when asked about some of the instances of his alleged proclivity to cross journalism’s sacred church-state divide between the editorial and business departments. (My personal favorite Murdoch quote was when, in answering a question about an Australian property and the guaranteeing of editorial space in exchange for a business relationship, he said: “I have no knowledge of that at all. We certainly would never do that. I didn’t do it. If you’re saying it happened, I’ll take your word for it.”
But Murdoch also talked a bit about digital issues, noting that he planned to invest heavily in the Journal’s Web businesses. And he even floated the idea of junking the Journal’s online subscription model at WSJ.com, making it free to attract more visitors and, thus, advertisers, all to better compete in the age of Google domination.
“There’s so much going on on the Internet. We’ve got to find new ways and new business models to get revenues,” he said. “Or else the world is going to be owned by Google.” He quickly noted that he liked the Google guys, who were “friends of mine.”
So apparently is Mark Zuckerberg, with whom Murdoch had a friendly Vulcan melding of the minds over dinner, according to a firsthand report by BuzzMachine’s Jeff Jarvis, at a May gathering of News Corp.’s newspaper and online executives to coordinate digital strategies.
So at the end of the interview, when discussing causes of the decline of the Tribune newspapers, the Journal reporters said to Murdoch, “They’re all going to MySpace.”
Murdoch’s response was speedy and must have cut to the quick at MySpace, the No. 1 and massively popular social network News Corp. bought last year, and which is still growing in leaps and bounds.
“I wish they were,” he said. “They’re all going to Facebook at the moment.”
Ouch, Chris and Tom: That’s gotta hurt.
(In a related interview, I talked with News Corp.’s President Peter Chernin onstage at D5, where we discussed the Dow Jones bid, the future of MySpace and a wide range of digital issues.)