WEB 2.0 SUMMIT — "I'm happy to say I'll have a job for the next two years," says Chris DeWolfe, CEO of MySpace, on stage with conference organizer John Battelle and his boss, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, confirming widespread rumors that he and MySpace cohort Tom Anderson had renewed their contract to run the social network for another two years. "I had to go from the nickel-and-dime newspaper culture, to the magazine culture ... to Hollywood and the Internet culture," says Murdoch, nodding to the reported — but unconfirmed — figure that DeWolfe and Anderson would make: $30 million over two years. More live coverage, after the jump.
"I think Silicon Valley is the most exciting place in the world right now," says Murdoch, DeWolfe's boss for another two years.
"Looking back, it looks like you got a pretty good deal," observes Battelle. "What did you see?" he asks Murdoch. "Was it like, 'I hope this one works out,' or did you think you'd be sitting on a red couch at Web 2.0 two years out?"
"We thought there was a real opportunity, and [asked ourselves], 'What do we have to pay to shut the doors?'" replies Murdoch. "We never imagined it would do this well."
Murdoch says that Fox Interactive Media, the unit of which MySpace is the biggest part, could cross $750 to $800 million in revenues next year. And there's a hint, in the back-and-forth, that the rumored earnout provision in DeWolfe and Anderson's contract might be tied to MySpace and the rest of FIM hitting a target of $1 billion in revenues.
DeWolfe and Murdoch make nice-nice comments about Google, which has a $900 million contract to provide search and ads on MySpace. Battelle keeps probing them. It's almost like he wants Murdoch to call Google a "frenemy," but, alas, the wizened, megarich News Corp. mogul settles for "threat and friend." (Google executive Megan Smith, recently locked in negotiations with MySpace rival Facebook, sat next to DeWolfe at the dinner before the interview.)
Confirming Valleywag's scoop that the MySpace platform would not be ready for today, DeWolfe says that the company is, as we reported, compiling a directory of third-party widgets currently used on the site's profiles.
Battelle asks Murdoch, "What do you think of Facebook?" A pause. "I think it's pretty cool," says Murdoch. "It's more of a utility.... In spite of the hype, we seem to be growing faster."
"Is that a reference to the September ComScore numbers?" asks Battelle. (ComScore, controversially, showed a drop in Facebook's traffic last month.) "Yes," says Murdoch. A pause. "I love that Rupert Murdoch is referencing ComScore Internet numbers. I don't know why, but I love it."
Is MySpace a portal? "We're more like a connectivity engine," says DeWolfe. Apparently that's better than being a "utility."
Battelle asks Murdoch about the acquisition of Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal. "Well, I haven't paid for it yet," says Murdoch, alluding to the deal's expected closure in December. "Are you going to kill the New York Times?" asks Battelle. "That'd be nice," says Murdoch. Murdoch then says CNBC, rival to News Corp's newly launched Fox Business Network as "half-dead" — and then retracts the observation, noting that CNBC's still making hundreds of millions of dollars. As for FBN's future, "I'll stick with it for at least a few years."
Murdoch talks acquisitions for a bit, grousing that everything's too expensive and he doesn't want to pay 30 times earnings. He sounds like an old man complaining about the menu prices in a restaurant. DeWolfe talks a bit about the acquisition of SDC, an ad-targeting startup, and Photobucket, whose purchase Valleywag reported exclusively.
Intrepid special correspondent Paul Boutin steps up to the microphone and asks Murdoch, "With all the deals you do, how do you know when the price is right?"
"I don't," says Murdoch. "I just hope." More will be said, but for that, Murdoch deserves the last word.