UPDATE: 3:16 PM: The official release from new MySpace owner Specific Media had an interesting bit of news in it: Justin Timberlake will take an ownership stake in the social-media site “and play a major role in developing the creative direction and strategy for the company moving forward.” It’s unknown how much he is investing in the deal, in which seller News Corp receives a minority equity stake in Specific, but it makes sense in that MySpace had become a de facto music promotions site since being essentially left in the dust by Facebook. Specific Media and Timberlake say they plan to evolve Myspace into the premiere digital destination for original shows, video content and music. “There’s a need for a place where fans can go to interact with their favorite entertainers, listen to music, watch videos, share and discover cool stuff and just connect. MySpace has the potential to be that place,” Timberlake says in the release. “Art is inspired by people and vice versa, so there’s a natural social component to entertainment. I’m excited to help revitalize Myspace by using its social media platform to bring artists and fans together in one community.”
PREVIOUS, 11:47 AM: It was such huge news back in 2005 when News Corp plunked down $580 million for the web’s hottest social-networking site MySpace. It makes today’s news maybe even bigger: News Corp has agreed to sell the site to ad-targeting firm Specific Media for $30 million-$40 million, the Wall Street Journal is reporting, well below its $100 million asking price. News Corp reportedly will take a small stake in the site; layoffs of half of MySpace’s approximately 500 employees already are underway. Plenty of groups had kicked the tires of the site, which essentially has become a marketing tool for the TV, flim and music companies, including one led by MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe. On Tuesday, that pool had narrowed to Irvine, Calif.-based Specific Media, which helps marketers buy ads online, and private-equity group Golden Gate Capital.