As the founder of MySpace.com, now the fifth most popular website in the English language and one of the top brands in the world I’ve seen a lot written and said about its creation. Some of it is exaggerated and a lot of it is just plain wrong. With MySpace myths growing almost as fast as the website itself, I decided to sit down and write the real story of how MySpace was born. For an extend history with documentation please see The MySpace Report.
My intuition told me that online communities were the future of the internet and I started my first internet company in 1998 that I named eUniverse.
Startup capital for eUniverse came from money I made from my first business Palisades Capital, which I ran out of my dorm room at UCLA and introduced hedge funds to public companies looking for investors. Within two years of starting Palisades Capital I had helped find public companies over $40 million in financing.
Soon after launching eUniverse I traveled the country looking for outside investors. It didn’t take long before Lehman Brothers and other investors who shared my vision provided $7 million in additional capital to fully fund the business, and I took eUniverse public in 1999.
eUniverse would quickly become a diversified business encompassing a number of community-focused websites. My first two acquisitions were a company in Connecticut that sold music CDs called CDUniverse, and CasesLadder (a gaming community). After seeing first hand the success of CasesLadder and the power of community my strategy expanded, and I began to create and acquire more online communities while continuously launching new ideas. I managed a growing group of talented employees and together we grew our websites and users at a frenetic pace. Remaining true to our early focus of creating communities that shared online entertainment we then launched a dating site called CupidJunction.
Starting with just a couple hundred thousand users per month we grew the eUniverse family of brands at such an incredible rate that by the end of 2001 we had built an online audience that Nielson Netratings consistently ranked in the Top 15 most visited web properties in the United States, and numbered about 20 million unique users per month.
The economic downturn of 2001 wiped out many internet companies, but eUniverse not only survived, we continued to turn a profit and kept on building and launching new ideas. By the end of 2003 our audience was even larger and we had developed a portfolio of major web brands including Skilljam (a gaming site), Flowgo.com (entertainment), CupidJunction (dating), and of course MySpace (social networking). This family of community websites would ultimately become worth tens of billions of dollars.