MySpace looks to regain momentum with iLike purchase

MySpace looks to social music site for an assist in uphill battle against Facebook

In an apparent attempt to tinker with its dimming image and regain some of its old glory, MySpace Inc. today announced that it has agreed to acquire iLike, a social music start-up.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

"The iLike acquisition advances our relentless pursuit of innovation and the need to create new distributed social experiences in music and beyond," said Owen Van Natta, CEO of MySpace, in a statement. "We are deeply committed to bringing world-class talent into all areas of the company, and this acquisition demonstrates our focus on this objective."

ILike calls itself a "social music discovery service" that runs on the Facebook, Orkut, Hi5 and Bebo platforms. With a reported 55 million registered users, the site is geared toward helping people share playlists and music recommendations, in addition to sending out concert alerts.

Company CEO Ali Partovi, President Hadi Partovi, CTO Nat Brown and all 26 remaining iLike employees will join MySpace and continue to work on iLike technology, Van Natta noted in a blog post.

"ILike users and the artist community should expect the iLike experience to be unaffected by the acquisition," wrote Van Natta. "By joining forces with iLike, you should expect that we'll be testing more things and building product that keeps both platforms highly engaging and social."

MySpace could use the boost.

The pioneering company that was once a bright star in the social networking world has been on the slide in recent years, letting Facebook significantly eclipse it in terms of market and mind share. Facebook, once thought of as the upstart social networking rival to dominant MySpace, has dethroned MySpace, with the most social networking users in both the U.S. and worldwide.

This past spring, MySpace had hoped to regain some of its lost momentum after Chris DeWolfe stepped down as the company's CEO. But a rocky economy and continued pressure from Facebook forced MySpace this summer to cut its U.S. staff by 30% and its offshore staff by two-thirds.

Van Natta blogged that the acquisition of iLike could prove to be a great boon MySpace.

"What the iLike team has done with music is applicable to all of the areas that are important to MySpace users today such as entertainment, video, and games," he wrote. "On MySpace, users connect with the content they love in a centralized and social environment. On iLike, users can access the content they love in a highly distributed environment across their favorite Web sites. This shared vision around content distribution is a key component to the future of MySpace."

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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