Time Inc. is the new owner of Myspace, the one-time social-media darling valued at $12 billion at its peak before being eclipsed by Facebook and Twitter.
Terms of the deal, announced Thursday, were not disclosed. Time Inc. said it expects Viant to contribute about $100 million in digital-ad sales for 2016. For the full year 2015, Time Inc.’s digital advertising revenue was $331 million, up 11% from the year prior.
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. bought Myspace for $580 million in 2005, coveting its large, youthful audience. But the media conglomerate failed to turn the property into a viable business.
“Many questions and jokes about My Space,” Murdoch tweeted in 2012. “Simple answer — we screwed up in every way possible, learned lots of valuable expensive lessons.”
Viant, which changed its name from Interactive Media Holdings last year (and was formerly known as Specific Media), bought Myspace from News Corp. in 2011 for just $35 million. The company had relaunched Myspace, in partnership with Justin Timberlake, as a music-discovery site with access to millions of music tracks and videos.
According to Viant, it owns a database with info on 1.2 billion users worldwide, including about 1 billion from Myspace alone.
Time Inc., whose media properties include People, Sports Illustrated, InStyle and Time, seems to think it can do better with Myspace than News Corp. did. In a release announcing the Viant purchase, Time Inc. said it plans to use the company’s assets to target online ads, link usage on devices with people and convert “ad spending to actual sales.”
“This acquisition is game-changing for us,” said Time Inc. chairman and CEO Joe Ripp. “Marketers are selecting media partners that have either data-driven capabilities or premium content; we will be able to deliver both in a single platform, and will stand apart from those that offer just one or the other.”
Time Inc. stock closed down 8.6% Thursday amid a broader market decline, to $12.40 per share — its lowest level since the company’s 2014 spinoff from Time Warner.
For the fourth quarter of 2015, the New York-based company posted revenue of $877 million, down 2% year over year, and net income of $17 million versus $145 million in Q4 2014. On an adjusted basis, Time Inc. had earnings per share of 58 cents; Wall Street analysts had expected adjusted EPS of 66 cents on revenue of $872 million.