MySpace Is for Sale; Could Google Buy?S

Who would buy MySpace? When News Corp. bought the social network for $580 million five years ago, it was on top; now MySpace trails Facebook and isn't trying to catch up. And News Corp is finally talking about selling.

In an interview with Reuters, News Corp. COO Chase Carey said Rupert Murdoch's media conglomerate was open to selling MySpace or taking on a new partner. Carey couched the possibility of a sale as just one of many options, but his comment followed months of rumors about MySpace going on the block. Chase also said that the timing for a sale has improved greatly now that MySpace is done with its relaunch, which positioned the site as a multimedia hub rather than a direct Facebook competitor.

MySpace wasn't a complete financial disaster for News Corp; the company is believed to have collected around $800 million from a savvy three-year ad deal signed with Google in 2006, and that's not counting two subsequent extensions of the deal (on no doubt less lucrative terms). But an acquirer is unlikely to get such a subsidy from Google.

Unless, of course, the acquirer is Google itself. The company just delayed its much anticipated full scale assault on Facebook amid reported disorganization and conflict over the effort. Mashable's Ben Parr reports that the chaos centers on "the design, purpose and execution of the project." Oh, is that all?

Maybe Google is fumbling so badly that even MySpace would represent progress. Google's brainy engineers wouldn't want anything to do with MySpace's technical underpinnings, but the brand and user base would be alluring.

Murdoch, at least, should hope so.

[Photo of Murdoch touting MySpace at a conference in 2007 via AP]