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MySpace’s new platform – what a difference 6 months makes!

History of MySpace’s relationships with widget companies
Let’s review the history so far:

MySpace was both hostile and inconsistent towards outside widget companies, and seemed to mostly treat the outside companies like they were stealing users without creating value.

Along the way, the company also did two interesting things:

… both of which seemed like hostile actions designed to thwart the viral growth of widgets.

Then the world changes!

Then of course:

… and then, as a response, finally MySpace announces their own platform – with an amusing quote from their new COO Amit Kapur:

Yeah, I think ultimately that may be an area where we are able to
differentiate. If you look at the past, companies like Photobucket and
YouTube did contribute to the success of MySpace. They were continuing
to build on the user experience in ways we were not focused on.
Philosophically, we want to make that easier for companies.

It really tells you how fast the tech world can change.

In 6 months, the largest and meanest gorilla on the block goes from actively trying to kill developers building on its platform to embracing and encouraging them to make money. Hilarious!

Of course, it took a worth competitor to emerge that showed that you can drive a ton of value (and valuation!) from opening things up and thinking strategically and long-term about your business.

Who else can learn from this?
It strikes me that there are many situations in which companies are being treated like platforms, but don’t realize that’s what they are. And as a result, they end up being very aggressive against developers when in fact they should probably be embracing them and trying to figure out the next generation of their business.

These include activities like:

  • Startups scraping e-mail addressbooks to find peoples’ friends and the larger companies getting annoyed
  • Companies WANTING to syndicate ads (or near-ads) like music videos, movie trailers, etc but unable to do so because the content isn’t embeddable
  • People crawling flash games online (aka stealing flash games?) and posting them somewhere else
  • Companies "spamming" the Google index using SEO techniques

All of these different scenarios are ones in which large companies are being leveraged by lots of smaller companies. And of course BigCo typically doesn’t respond well.

Question is – what’s the best way for them to start taking advantage of this developer base that wants to engage their distribution platforms, their content, and their audiences?

The sad answer is – we’ll probably never know until these companies are weakened and are significantly challenged enough by competitors to reverse course as MySpace did.

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