Employees of Fox Entertainment Group, the News Corp. entity which includes most of the media conglomerates U.S. arms, recently got a peppy letter from septuagenarian CEO Rupert Murdoch and COO Peter Chernin. After lavishing Fox's movie and television units with praise — "record market share," "double digit profit growth," "critically acclaimed releases," Murdoch finishes the letter with this tepid phrase:
News Corp.'s online arm, Fox Interactive Media, has struggled to attract online talent while paying them like a startup would. (News Corp. shares just don't cut it.) The solution for the unit, which includes MySpace and a passel of lesser-known websites: a long-term incentive plan, or LTIP, which offers a sort of phantom equity to executives in the division. In the last few weeks, the numbers for the most recent fiscal year which ended June 30 were distributed, and they were "disastrously low," says a tipster. "Most executives were already looking to leave," he says. "They hated FIM and the only reason they were staying was because of promises made about the LTIP." True, FIM hasn't quite made its aggressively optimistic numbers. But executives believe the real reason their bonuses are so low is MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe's fat contract.DeWolfe and his MySpace cohort, Tom Anderson, renewed their contracts last fall with News Corp. last year for $15 million apiece, spread over two years. Paying that amount has, FIM executives believe, left nothing for them. "They're pissed," says our tipster. Then again, do these puffed-up Fox executives deserve much more than they're getting? Pop quiz: Name a Fox Interactive property other than MySpace.
Poor Yahoo can't even keep tenants at the Yahoo Center in Santa Monica — Fox Interactive Media will be moving all 2,000 of its Los Angeles-area employees to the as-yet-uncompleted Horizon at Playa Vista office park in Playa Del Rey. The deal, which Peter Levinsohn calls "the biggest deal in LA real estate in 25 years," is worth $350 million according to sources cited by the Los Angeles Times. The planned complex, situated between Culver City and LAX, will also host a retail complex, making it easy for FIM employees to buy the products with the paychecks funded by the advertising for those products, thereby completing the great Southland circle of life.
Former Fox Interactive exec turned venture capitalist Ross Levinsohn only needs to finish the paperwork to become the biggest name on Microsoft's list of 10 nominees to replace Yahoo's board, TechCrunch reports and BoomTown confirms. The high-profile rubber-stamping position should suit Levinsohn's ego just fine.
Rupert Murdoch's new handpicked president of FIM Audience Network, Adam Bain, has the requisite big idea to save MySpace: an ad network which lets his salespeople sell ads all over the Web, not just on MySpace and other News Corp. sites.The idea is to take what MySpace has learned about its own users and share it with publishers and advertisers, to better target ads. What behavioral insights Bain expects to garner from "thanks for the add" isn't clear. But at this point the Fox Interactive Media Audience Network remains little more than a thought bubble — and Bain left it to MySpace's top US sales exec, Bryce Emo (pictured), to deliver the news.
Fox Interactive Media — the unit overseeing MySpace and other News Corp. online properties — will miss its fiscal-year revenue projections of $1 billion by more than 10 percent, or $100 million, the WSJ reports. As a result, Fox Interactive chief revenue officer Michael Barrett is out of a job. The big problem is making money off of MySpace. It has lots of users, but as MySpace advertising partner Google has discovered, brands don't want to put their product next to Tila Tequila. So now MySpace is going to try something we thought Facebook would do — create an ad network that targets MySpace members when they visit third-party sites. It'll be called the "Fox Interactive Media Audience Network," and Adam Bain will run it. PaidContent obtained a memo from Peter Levinsohn, president of Fox Interactive Media on the reshuffling and it's pasted below.
MySpace is settling into its new San Francisco office space on Second Street near South Park, from the looks of this photo sent by a helpful inside spy. The building was a former startup incubator owned by LookSmart. No computer setups, yet, but note the size of the coffee machine. This should keep coders awake long enough to fix the social network's screamingly bad user interface. More pictures of the office follow.
News Corp will acquire Beliefnet, a portal for the spiritually inclined, FishbowlNY reports. Word from Silicon Alley Insider is that Peter Levinsohn, News Corp.'s Fox Interactive Media head honcho, didn't make the move. Instead, Fox Digital Media topper Dan Fawcett pulled the trigger. That group markets Fox movies and TV shows online. Wait a second: Shouldn't the digital operation inside HarperCollins have done this deal instead? Sure, it's another redundant interactive arm of News Corp., but HarperCollins is one of the world's largest Bible publishers. (Photo by tanakawho)
After claiming in August that Fox Interactive Media — News Corp.'s Internet division, which includes MySpace — would generate revenue exceeding $1 billion next year, Rupert Murdoch has gently lowered expectations. News Corp. now says they will reach "about $1 billion" in Internet revenue in its 2008 fiscal year, which ends next June. [Silicon Alley Insider]