The two main founders of MySpace, Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolf, met while working at the free online storage company, Xdrive, in 1999.
Once Xdrive closed due to bankruptcy, the two decided to create their own company, and started selling e-mail addresses to companies. However, this became a problem with California's tightening anti spam laws, and in 2002 their company, Responsebase, was bought by Intermix Media (formerly known as eUniverse).
In July 2003, Thomas Anderson looked at the social networking site Friendster, and thought that Intermix Media could create a better site. With the help of Chris DeWolf and a few other Intermix employees, MySpace was created just ten days later, using the domain name that Anderson and DeWolf already owned.
MySpace was first used by employees of Intermix, and they later competed to see who could sign up the most members to the site. The number of people with MySpace accounts quickly rose, but peaked at about 100 million.
In July 2005, Intermix Media was bought by Rupert Murdoch's company, News Corporation for $ 580 million.
MySpace became very popular among musicians, who used it to promote their music. The public are able to go onto a band's site and listen to their music, find details of upcoming tour dates, and other information about the bands. In fact, there have been many musicians who have been discovered on MySpace, and have since signed contracts with record labels, with the British singer Lily Allen as a notable example.
MySpace was the undisputed king of social networking sites until it was toppled in April 2008 by the current top social media site, Facebook. But why did MySpace lose to Facebook?
The creators of MySpace decided to encourage the users to tell them what they wanted on the site. Originally, being able to customize your page was a mistake; the creators forgot to add in the code that would prevent it. Once they realized the error, they considered fixing it, but decided against it as users enjoyed it so much.
The problem with this, was that it also created several security holes. This led to the vast amounts of spamming and hacking that started to annoy users.
Another aspect of MySpace that users did not like was the advertising. Unlike Facebook, where there are a few adverts placed in an unobtrusive place, MySpace is filled with blaring, in-your-face adverts.
Being able to customize your own page also made MySpace look messy. There is no clear structure to the pages, and while it led to creativity on the parts of the members, it does require some knowledge of coding, and lack of this knowledge could ruin a page, no matter how creative the designer was.
Finally there is the "class" factor. The well-respected social media researcher, danah boyd (she insists on lower case letters for her name) has written about how Americans see Facebook as a site for the richer, more popular, "normal" people, while MySpace has often been seen as more of a site for outcasts, or the lower classes. The fact that Facebook was at first primarily for Ivy League colleges, and then expanded to other colleges, while MySpace was used by teenagers, serves to enforce this notification. Many people wanted to join Facebook because they saw it as socially superior to MySpace.
Recently, MySpace looks to be focusing more on its entertainment side than social networking. They are promoting their onsite games, as well as music pages. They may have ceded the battle for social networking king to Facebook, but unlike previous sites that have historically flopped; they may just be able to survive through these entertainment pages.