Tom Anderson has been out of the social network game for years, but lately it seems like he wants to get back in. The MySpace founder has become one of the most active and followed users on Google+ since its launch, and he also spends plenty of time on Facebook and Twitter, where he's got 191,000 followers.
While his blurbs on the social networks say Anderson is "enjoying being retired," it looks more like he's pursuing a new career as a top social media analyst. He's offered praise and critiques of Google+, Facebook and more in recent weeks, including a guest post on TechCrunch over the weekend that warns Google against relying too heavily on algorithms in its new social service.
A lot of Anderson's recently re-elevated profile has to do with the buzz around Google+, but he insists that he's just as big a fan of Facebook and Twitter.
"I'm rooting for Zuckerberg & Co. as much as I am for Google," he writes on TechCrunch. "I want to see more distinct networks thrive. I don't think social networking is a zero sum game."
He goes on to argue that the notion that "Facebook killed MySpace" in much the same way that it had outdone Friendster before it isn't actually the case. Anderson believes that both pioneering social networks were undone by fatal mismanagement, and he includes himself among those deserving blame for MySpace's eventual demise.
That's likely another reason Anderson has been back in the spotlight. As Google+ was preparing to field test, a deal to sell MySpace was being finalized. A group of investors, including Justin Timberlake, purchased the site from Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation for $35 million, less than ten percent of the price NewsCorp had paid Anderson and Co. back in 2005. The hype around Google+ was growing as MySpace's spectacular flameout was entering its final phase.
The knee-jerk reaction is that Anderson is jumping on the Google+ bandwagon in a desperate attempt to stay relevant, but he's been happy to be out of the spotlight for years now, what would be the point in staging a comeback now?
I wrote Tom to ask him what's up. Is he truly retired? Maybe he's working on a new project? Or open for speaking engagements? Does he even have time for that with his busy social networking schedule?
No response yet, but my guess is that Tom Anderson is an earnestly excited social network fan boy watching others achieve his vision from the sidelines. Certainly if Charles Lindbergh had access to Twitter, he'd be tweeting a thing or two about the latest Boeing superliner. You'd probably have a hard time getting him to shut up about the thing. So it goes with Tom. Turns out he wasn't just our first MySpace friend, he's now our social networking friend for life.