It was 2009 and things weren't looking good for Myspace. According to comScore, Facebook logged 307.1 million visitors globally that April, while Myspace failed to reach even half of that with 123.3 million users. One month later, Facebook inched out ahead of its predecessor for the first time in the US. There was no turning back.
Today, Myspace is showing growth with 36 million users last October, up from 32.6 million the previous June, but it's largely lost its cultural cachet and barely resembles the site that captured the world's attention years ago. Under new ownership, Myspace has refocused its vision as a platform for musicians, re-upped its design and landed itself a hot new celebrity spokesman/investor. Justin Timberlake is bringing the sexy back to the social network, but whatever happened to Myspace Tom?
Tom Anderson was everyone's first friend on Myspace, but when traffic started to decline, there were no warm feelings for Anderson and his co-founder Chris DeWolfe. In April 2009, News Corp. let DeWolfe go, while Anderson, then the company's president, stayed on in a diminished capacity. But in February of the following year, the face of Myspace was replaced by another "Tom" (Today on Myspace) as users' first friend.
Life is good for Myspace Tom, and he's not afraid to flaunt it.
Although retired, he hasn't left Myspace altogether, at least not as a user. His last post to the site appeared in June of last year, and broadcasted to a relatively small group of about 13,000 followers that he'd just finished listening to six songs from Mumford & Sons. That's not to say he's given up his passion for social media, however. In fact, he's keeping his one-time competitors in the money. At last count, Anderson had 216,000 followers on Twitter and 51,471 on Instagram, where he's pledged an unambitious goal to "create one good photo a day."
His not-quite-daily updates to Instagram show a man leading a life of leisure. He spent Christmas Eve in Hanoi, Vietnam and New Year's Day in Singapore. Late last year, he posted an image of the world surrounded by various religious symbols, saying that he'd visited nine countries in two months.
Life is good for Myspace Tom, and he's not afraid to flaunt it. In a heated Twitter exchange over Instagram's new terms of service in 2012, Anderson mocked the working class while touting the payout he and his fellow co-founders received when News Corp. acquired the social network in 2005 (screenshot below captured by CNBC).
But it hasn't been all Sutro sunsets and internet class clashes for Anderson. Despite his self-proclaimed retirement, he's been attached to real estate ventures in Vegas and a Facebook gambling app called RocketFrog, also backed by Brody Jenner.
Advising on an online casino is a far cry from taking social networking mainstream, but then the internet of today looks a whole hell of a lot different from the one Myspace dominated. When News Corp. bought Myspace for $580 million in 2005, no one could have predicted its biggest competitor would eventually buy a mobile messaging app for $19 billion.
To celebrate our 10th anniversary, we'll bring you a new story every week in March that explores how the social media landscape has changed. Check out our hub every Wednesday for more from of our 10 Years in Social Media series, and keep your eyes out for more '10 Years In' content in the months to come.
Lead image: Tom from Myspace and Ted Skillet from Myspace during Ted Skillet's 30th Birthday Celebration at Aura Nightclub in Pleasanton, California, United States. (Photo by Kevin Sam/FilmMagic)