News Corp. finds friend for Japan

TOKYO — News Corp. and Softbank have clinched a deal to jointly launch a Japanese version of MySpace, the companies announced Tuesday. Each partner will contribute ¥590 million ($5 million) in startup coin for the new joint venture, MySpace Japan (Daily Variety, Nov. 7). This confirms an earlier report in the Nikkei newspaper about a deal.

The partnership marks firsts for both companies, with Softbank taking its first direct plunge into the social-networking business while News Corp., as chairman Rupert Murdoch noted at a press conference announcing the deal, is making its first Asian and first joint-venture launch for MySpace.

Softbank owns a 41.9% share of Yahoo! Japan, but is not involved in the running of Yahoo!’s social networking sites. It plans to take an active role in running MySpace Japan, however, CEO Masayoshi Son said at the press conference. The company also plans to incorporate MySpace into the Softbank cell phone service operated by group company Softbank Mobile, Son added.

Meanwhile, News Corp., which is investing in the venture through subsid Fox Interactive Media Intl., will provide know-how and other support though subsid MySpace.

News Corp. bought MySpace parent company Intermix Media in July 2005 for $580 million, and has MySpace operations in U.K., Australia and Ireland, with beta sites in France and Germany.

MySpace will have to compete with industry leader Mixi, which has nearly 6 million subs and is listed on the Mothers section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Son said MySpace Japan “will not have an invitation-only system” like Mixi’s, instead allowing open registration. The site plans to earn coin mainly through ads.

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