A Look At Rupert Murdoch's History Of Internet Failures

from the what-do-they-have-in-common dept

Ross Pruden points us to a neat little graphic that Mediaweek put together, highlighting all of News Corps.’ internet failures over the years (pdf) as it gets ready to launch its iPad only publication called The Daily. If you look at the image (or click it to go to the original Mediaweek pdf), you begin to sense a pattern:

The downfall in almost every case is about Murdoch focusing on using the internet as mainly a broadcast medium, rather than a communications medium. Delphi was all about community… and then News Corp. tried to turn it into a place to sell his magazines and newspapers. Fox Interactive was all about pushing content, and had little community. MySpace, of all things, which was really about community from the beginning, has completely faltered under News Corps’ control, because they tried to focus on using it to sell music and stopped investing in any sort of real community features — as services like Facebook and Twitter totally leapfrogged them on that front. It’s the same story over and over again, and given that The Daily is so focused on platform, rather than users, it seems likely to be a repeat of the same mistake all over again.

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Comments on “A Look At Rupert Murdoch's History Of Internet Failures”

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Ben in TX (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“…and he is still a million times richer than you will ever be. For all your internet skill, he still wipes his ass with more money than you will ever have. I would love to fail like him.”

You would love to fail like him, huh? Will you still feel that way in 20 years when his empire has crumbled around him and his failures have bankrupted his family? Would you love to be remembered as a dinosaur of a previous age who utterly failed to respond to the world changing around him? Would you love to be the ‘riches to rags’ failure story of the 21st century?

All of these things will happen, and Rupert Murdoch will be viewed as a total, complete failure. History will not be kind to him, not would it be to you, if you were worth remembering.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

No, Mark Zuckerberg is potentially as rich. But until the company is either sold or goes public, he is rich but for the most part on paper. As the Dot bombers from the early 21st century how much rich really is.

The way up, the way down… Old Rupe will die with enough money to buy everyone here and turn them into slaves. Calling him a failure makes me want to fail like him.

ScaredOfTheMan says:

blah blah blah

I love how the first commenter cannot refute anything in the PDF. ‘Well he is richer than you so Nah nah nah.’ Truth be told this will become a classic case study on how his empire was slowly eroded away by a huge uncontrollable information distribution medium called the internet. How misstep after misstep lead to there current position.

Mr. Murdoch kicked a lot of people’s asses in business to get where he is today and there is a real story there. Unfortunately for him the world that he thrived in went digital, unless something drastically, I don’t think news corp will ever reach the level of readership and influence it had previously enjoyed.

DMNTD says:


Looks like charity work to me. Just didn’t want to help people who couldn’t help themselves so he just chose to hand it over to small businesses so they could frolic in the green, right? /Sarc end

It bothers me the way people handed over their hard work for a bit of money, not only that, but money that is collapsing on a daily bases.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

“The downfall in almost every case is about Murdoch focusing on using the internet as mainly a broadcast medium, rather than a communications medium.”

Running a biased news organization you can not allow community. Community is about communication, his news organization is about spoon feeding information and not allowing any discenting voices to prove the opinions expressed as fact as wrong.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Aren’t all news organizations like this?”

Yes they are, and they just don’t get the community piece. Which is why the 14-28 year olds are all getting their news from face book, news reader, and the like and ignoring newspapers and old school news.

In two years the 14-28 year old crowd will be the 14-32 crowd, the age range is expanding faster than people age, and it is accelerating. So unless the old school news organizations adapt they will fail in the next 10 years.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I’m 35 and I can’t remember the last time I bought a newspaper for any other reason than to get the free DVD/CD/book that’s packaged with it on occasion. I probably wouldn’t even bother with TV or radio news if they didn’t make a handy thing to put on in the background while driving or doing housework. Even then, I wouldn’t bother if Murdoch’s brand of “news” was the only thing out there…

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“I’m 35 and I can’t remember the last time I bought a newspaper for any other reason than to get the free DVD/CD/book that’s packaged with it on occasion.”

Whats really neat is the fact that the content industries (record labels, studios, newspapers, etc) state that the 14-28 years old crowd don’t buy their stuff any more. The true story is that it is a set of curves where the majority in the 14-28 yr olds don’t. Techdirt had a great chart showing the trend for cellphones.

Personally I have bought 4 newspapers in the past 5 years. I used them as drop cloths when painting. The only part I read were the comics …

Miles (profile) says:

Murdoch can't blow through his money fast enough.

If only he’d go bankrupt already, so FoxNews (and every single one of its “unbiased” news facilities) would shut down forever and give people who view this trash an attempt at re-wiring their brain’s ability to think, rather than grumble.

Dear Rupert (and all the sons), if you’re *really* interested in just throwing your money away, I’ve about 10,000 ideas (costing $100 million each) which is sure to please and boost those magazine and newspaper circulars (outdated in the 80s…1880s).

rosspruden (profile) says:

Countless failure? Or multi-step success?

It feels… well, petty to criticize Murdoch for all his failures because the road to success is often derived from constant experimentation and failure. Someone once asked a scientist how they handled the 400+ failures they’d had before they created a vaccine that finally worked. Their response? “I don’t see them as 400+ failures?I see it all as one success with 400+ steps.”

This is the right lens to look at failure?a lesson from which we can make a critical course correction. Obviously, new business ventures must always mitigate failure, but if it happens, a thorough post mortem is often more informative than an outrageous success story. The difference between Murdoch and the people behind Yipit is a low cost investment to determine if the idea will be a success or a failure. Murdoch lays a lot on the line before the venture is adequately judged in the marketplace. Yipit knew in three days if their business was viable with users. Murdoch has had the luxury to spend millions of dollars before he can determine failure, but few people have such a luxury.

Having said that, there does seem to be a significant pattern to the kind of failures of Murdoch’s endeavors, and Mike has pinpointed it. This is no longer a Read-Only world as Murdoch would like it to be, but a Read-Write world. Why did the powerhouse Myspace social network suddenly wither while newcomer Facebook explode?

Let’s look more closely at Myspace vs. Facebook. Myspace had ads galore. Myspace had horrendous programming glitches. Myspace was slow. Myspace let users add so much junk (big images, sound files, horrible page and text coloring) to their personal pages that it often became a illegible mish-mash.

Facebook, though it has repeatedly invoked the wrath of its users for revamping its overall design too quickly, the end result is a cleaner and more stable platform. Ads are fewer and less egregious, but also more customized to the user?I have many times clicked on Facebook’s ads because they offer something of interest to me; I never clicked once on any ostentatious Myspace ads.

My decision to jump from Myspace to Facebook was not taken lightly: I had invested time in acquiring over 300 “friends” so I had no desire to see all that time as a sunk cost. But the Myspace platform had been offering less value to me as a user… and the Facebook platform has only been offering more value to me as a user. Myspace was trending downward, Facebook upward.

So there is indeed a pattern to Murdoch’s failure, as Mike suggests. Murdoch, a fine representative of the broadcast-only Old Guard, should swallow the pill and hand the reins over to his daughter who seems to have a more adaptive understanding of how social networks have introduced an irreversible interactive element to all media. Murdoch has had success from his previous ventures, but if he continues to ignore what the users now value (i.e., interactivity, quality web coding, targeted ads, sharabiility), we will continue to see his business ventures be outfoxed by faster and more insightful competitors like Mark Zuckerberg.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Countless failure? Or multi-step success?

“So there is indeed a pattern to Murdoch’s failure, as Mike suggests. Murdoch, a fine representative of the broadcast-only Old Guard, should swallow the pill and hand the reins over to his daughter who seems to have a more adaptive understanding of how social networks have introduced an irreversible interactive element to all media.”

Couple huge problems …

Bureaucracy at a corporation like news corp is very slow to change and will fight tooth and nail to prevent it.

Web based organizations are highly efficient, news corp isn’t, translating to the web would require the loss of 90% of the staff. A perfect example is Craiglist where less than 100 people handle the classified for an entire nation, where 10,000 (no citiation just a vague memory of the #) people used to be employed doing the same job.

Generic papers and news organizations are being replaced by person specific and targeted news. News that interests the individual without all the crap that doesn’t interest them. I have 400 RSS feeds I follow all on very specific topics.

All in all it doesn’t bode well for NewCorp. Its a long term short in my book.

Anonymous Coward says:

In 10 years time the internet will be in 3 distinct segments
1)Social interaction between people, groups and businesses
2)A segment that you visit on purpose when you want to buy, be sold to or be ‘pushed’ by vendors and people who want to thrust stuff on you
3)A segment which we can’t yet classify because it hasn’t emerged/been invented yet!
Murdoch and his ilk will play and be profitable in segment2!

Anonymous Coward says:

blah blah blah - He'll be fine!!

Sure, internet ventures of his keep dying left and right. Absolutely because of the broadcast vs. communicate aspect.

But he’ll be fine, because he managed to score an entire freaking national government as his enforcer. Remember, Australia is now breakin’ kneecaps for Murdoch, forcing the "Big Boys" (Facebook and Google, primarily) to pony up bucks for the honor of sending readers his way.

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