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Justin Timberlake part of group buying MySpace

Justin Timberlake arrives at the The 83rd Annual Academy Awards on Sunday, February 27, 2011 (RICK ROWELL)
June 30, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Pop star Justin Timberlake is taking on the real life version of a part he played on the film, "The Social Network."

Timberlake played Napster co-founder Sean Parker in the wildly popular movie. Now, he'll be part owner of MySpace.

He joined the company Specific Media in buying the site for $35 million. That's a small fraction of the $580 million that News Corp. paid for the site six years ago. The sale resulted in the layoff of about half of the site's remaining 500 workers, said a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Timberlake will have an office at MySpace's Beverly Hills headquarters, and oversee a staff of about a dozen people specifically working to revamp the site.

The singer said MySpace has the potential to be an important place for fans to interact with entertainers. With Timberlake's help, the buyers hope to revitalize MySpace and transform it into a destination for original shows, as well as bolster its already available video content and music.

The partners are set to unveil their plans for reviving the flagging site in a couple of months.

MySpace, founded in 2003, became a popular Internet destination and a key way for little-known musicians to market themselves and interact with their fans.

But MySpace lost its footing over the years as the fun of customizing one's profile began to bore its users and heavy use of banner advertisements slowed the speed at which pages load.

Meanwhile, Facebook, founded in 2004, limited what users and advertisers could do, but kept pages clean, and freshened them with its "news feed" of updates, a feature that MySpace later copied.

Timberlake's involvement is a clear sign that MySpace will try to reconnect with its musical roots. Specific Media CEO Tim Vanderhook said that the acquisition is about returning MySpace "to what it was supposed to be."

Specific Media, based in Irvine, Calif., brokers the sale of ads to websites and has dabbled in creating original programming and matching it with sponsors. The company was founded in 1999 by brothers Tim, Chris and Russell Vanderhook.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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