News Corp.'s Chernin: tone deaf Web 2.0 trash talker
Peter Chernin, COO of News Corp., appears to have sketched a very politically incorrect strategic vision for MySpace yesterday, and the Web 2.0 crowd is united in being appalled.
According to Mike Farrell of Multichannel News, Chernin was in Pasadena for the Merrill Lynch Media & Entertainment Conference, where he waxed surprisingly isolationist:
"If you look at virtually any Web 2.0 application, whether its YouTube, whether it's Flicker (sic), whether it's Photobucket or any of the next-generation Web applications, almost all of them are really driven off the back of MySpace," Chernin said at the conference. "There's no reason why we can't build a parallel business."
Now, in the current era of content "mash-ups" and user-generated titans like Wikipedia and Craigslist, that sort of zero-sum line is at best tone deaf, and it was hardly softened when Chernin added: "Given that most of their traffic comes from us, if we build adequate, if not superior, competitors, I think we ought to be able to match them, if not exceed them."
Plenty of people were quick to question Chernin's assumptions about MySpace being the dominant traffic-driver to those apps. (And The Browser suspects Chad Hurley, CEO of YouTube, might be among them. At lunch in NYC last month, we asked Hurley about MySpace's clumsy efforts to block YouTube videos. "It doesn't necessarily hurt us," said Hurley, noting that while a lot of YouTube's initial growth came from MySpace, that was no longer the case. "What we're seeing is the majority of people are watching videos on our site because we’ve become a destination.")
But accuracy aside, what bothered the guardians of the Web 2.0 faith was that Chernin seems to miss the whole point of social content.
"This is such a ridiculous strategy that it's not even worth contemplating," posted Mashable. "MySpace's openness to third-party extensions (MySpace layouts, MySpace codes) is one of its most popular attributes - squashing that ecosystem may provide short-term benefits, but it will ultimately harm them in the long term."
Michael Arrington at TechCrunch was similarly outraged, saying that Chernin's comments sounded "both dangerously arrogant and like a real validation of fears that MySpace dependency is too risky for outside developers."
Like Arrington, Om Malik hoped that Chernin was somehow misquoted: "There is a good chance, a lot he said was left on the cutting floor," wrote Malik. "But if (and only if) he means what he says, then all those tiny start ups that are betting the farm on MySpace economy better watchout."
Ahh, the woes of being a media titan in a world of messy social networks.
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