Kara Swisher

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Back to the Future: Myspace Co-Founder Chris DeWolfe Joins the Board of Talenthouse

Myspace co-founder Chris DeWolfe will be joining the board of innovative social media and marketing firm Talenthouse.

In an interview this morning, DeWolfe said the company — which links creative talent to brand advertisers — reminds him of the best of what Myspace did in its early days, when it was a hip and hot hub of music and other entertainment activity on the Web.

“Talenthouse has recaptured that lightning in a bottle,” he said. “It’s a very difficult thing to combine the creative realm with measurable branded advertising in a way that is self-service.”

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based Talenthouse is trying to do just that by marrying its 1.6 million-member creative community — from top performers like Lady Gaga to indie artists — and the social engagement they can attract from an audience of hundreds of millions, via social networks with a variety of marketers.

The three-year-old company has attracted a steady stream of celebrities to use its platform via deals with big entertainment companies, such as Universal Music Group.

But rather than straight-on advertising, the company attempts edgier efforts, such as a crowdsourced project to design the next Adidas sunglasses or Gaga’s t-shirt.

The main idea is to leverage “influencers” to allow brands to have a deeper and more immersive relationship with consumers than, say, a Facebook fan page might provide (or not!).

DeWolfe — who is still CEO of SGN, a developer and publisher of cross-platform games on social and mobile networks — said that advertisers crave such custom-branded advertising campaigns, especially when combined with a self-service platform.

“You cannot manufacture virality easily, but if you are social-network agnostic, you can reach people with a range of content creators,” he said.

Both Talenthouse founder Amos Pizzey and CEO Roman Scharf said the pioneering work in the arena done by Myspace of marrying social and media was an inspiration for the company.

While the failed history of Myspace was perhaps akin to what happened to some pioneers — the Internet plains are covered with the bodies of many laudable digital efforts — Pizzey noted that the ideas it propagated were right.

“There needed to be a bridge between the entertainment and the technology worlds, and Myspace was the first to do that well,” he said.

Scharf said that was why they reached out to DeWolfe to join Talenthouse’s small board.

“We are aiming to provide immersive branded solutions, and also to give the creative community a place to collaborate with them and also each other easily,” he said. “Chris has understood that for a long time now.”

Talenthouse is also in the midst of raising more funding. It already has garnered about $15 million from a wide range of places, including Reliance BIG Entertainment, 3TS Cisco Growth Fund, Googler Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, and director Brett Ratner.

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— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google