MySpace buys iLike social music service

The acquisition is expected to enhance MySpace's user experience

MySpace, scrambling to jump-start its popularity, has agreed to buy iLike, a social music discovery service that is very popular on MySpace and other social networks like Facebook.

The companies would seem to be a good fit, considering MySpace has always had a strong emphasis on music, concerts and recording artists.

MySpace, once the most popular social-networking site in the world, has been surpassed by Facebook. Parent company News Corp. shook up MySpace's management in April, bringing in Owen Van Natta as CEO. A former Facebook chief revenue officer and vice president of operations, Van Natta replaced Chris DeWolfe.

Van Natta, who also worked at Amazon.com as vice president of worldwide business and corporate development, came to MySpace from online music company Playlist, where he had been the CEO.

Also in April, News Corp. hired Jonathan Miller, the former AOL chief, to be News Corp.'s CEO of digital media and chief digital officer. Van Natta reports to Miller.

In June, MySpace announced its intention to cut its U.S. staff by almost 30 percent to 1,000 employees and to slash its staff abroad from 450 to about 150 employees, as well as shutter several international offices.

Financial terms of the MySpace-iLike deal weren't disclosed.

iLike was founded in 2006 by brothers Ali and Hadi Partovi and today has 55 million total users and 1.5 billion monthly impressions.

Ali Partovi will remain as CEO, Hadi Partovi as president and Nat Brown as CTO. iLike, which has 26 employees, will keep its offices in Seattle.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Van Natta said he expects iLike to remain present in other social networks, including Facebook, and to continue growing its usage in general.

"In the short term, users should expect the iLike experience to be unaffected by the acquisition. Over time, the collaboration of these two companies will deliver a user experience that is unparalleled on the Web," Van Natta said.

The iLike technology offers MySpace opportunities beyond the music category. "What iLike has created isn't limited to just music, and should extend to all the areas important to MySpace users, such as entertainment, video and games," he said.

Van Natta also said iLike will operate separately from MySpace Music, a joint venture between the social-networking site and the biggest music industry players.

MySpace Music lets members of the social-networking site stream for free music from the four major record companies, as well as buy songs for download without any digital locks from a store powered by Amazon MP3.

It also lets users share music, purchase merchandise and event tickets, manage their digital music collections and compile playlists.

When asked for comment, Facebook said via e-mail that iLike was one of the first applications built on its platform and that it has become a success with more than 10 million users.

"We expect that users will continue to discover and share music through the iLike application on Facebook," the Facebook statement reads.

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Juan Carlos Perez

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