Little has been heard from Slingshot Labs, the startup "incubator" News Corp. formed in February, in the months since its creation. The $15 million fund for spinoff ventures did succeed in keeping MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe in place: We hear that he made it a quid pro quo before signing a new, lucrative contract with Rupert Murdoch. He's not the only MySpace employee Slingshot played a part in keeping down in Los Angeles. We hear Nick Granado, a top engineer behind MySpace's iPhone version, first flirted with a job at Facebook, then worked briefly at Imeem, before getting lured back with a gig at Slingshot.
Will Slingshot actually produce anything besides cushier jobs for restless talent at MySpace? Yahoo's Brickhouse is a cautionary tale. The San Francisco office was meant to house creative new projects — like Flickr, but built in-house. In practice, however, it's nearly impossible to pay employees as richly as the startup stock-option lottery does. A sinecure at a big company is less risky, and less rewarding. Will the likes of Granado produce a big payoff for MySpace? Unlikely. But it must be worth something to put studs out to pasture, rather than see them running with the herd at Facebook.