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Web 2.0 Summit: Microsoft Demos Mashup Tool

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InformationWeek Daily - Friday, Oct 19, 2007

Editor's Note

Murdoch, DeWolfe Dissect Social Networking Future

Anyone who has ever written about News Corp. knows that you don't really "cover" Rupert Murdoch in the sense that you cover, say, Sumner Redstone or Michael Eisner or David Geffen. You marvel at him the way you might marvel at a giant, ancient lizard.

You puzzle over his ability to make deals that other, less bold moguls scoff at now and envy later. You wait for the few droplets of information that every once in a while escape his lips. You wonder what he might actually do next, and whether it will match his image as an overbearing, reactionary, populist ogre. At this point Murdoch is less a media mogul than a wizened but still vital force of capitalism, as shrewd as Warren Buffet but far less scrutable.

He did little to dispel that image tonight, on stage at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco with MySpace founder Chris DeWolfe. Moderator John Battelle did manage to extract some news over the course of the hour-long discussion, mostly from DeWolfe. After MySpace was acquired by Murdoch in 2005 for $580 million -- a figure that many analysts considered evidence that the old man had finally lost his mind, and now looks like a bargain -- DeWolfe and co-founder Tom Anderson signed a two-year contract. Tonight DeWolfe confirmed reports that they have re-upped for another two years, likely for less than the $12 million per year apiece they were said to be demanding (Murdoch hasn't lost his talent for keeping costs low, even for an asset that has likely increased in value almost 10-fold over the price he paid for it).

The other news is that MySpace, following Facebook's lead, will open up its APIs to outside developers "sometime in the next few months," said DeWolfe. The opening up was questioned by some in the audience, who wanted to know whether DeWolfe will also allow full portability of MySpace-created apps to other social-networking sites (the answer, though DeWolfe wouldn't acknowledge it, was clearly "No"), but still it's a move many have demanded.

You can read more about Murdoch's take on Web 2.0 -- and leave your own comments -- at the InformationWeek blog.

Richard Martin

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