Business

Justin Timberlake part of group that buys MySpace

LOS ANGELES — Justin Timberlake apparently wasn't satisfied with playing a social media impresario in the movies: He's becoming one in real life.

The pop star, who played Napster co-founder Sean Parker in The Social Network, a movie about Facebook, has joined Specific Media in buying MySpace from News Corp. in a deal that closed Wednesday.

Timberlake will have an office at MySpace's Beverly Hills headquarters and a staff of about a half dozen people working for him "around the clock" developing his ideas for the site, Specific Media CEO Tim Vanderhook said.

The partners are set to unveil their plans for reviving the flagging site in a couple of months.

The deal is for $35 million, mostly in Specific Media stock, according to a person familiar with the matter. That's a small fraction of the $580 million News Corp. paid for the site six years ago. The sale resulted in the layoff of about half of the site's remaining 500 workers, said the person, who was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

As part of the exchange, News Corp. received a private equity stake in Specific Media and less than a 5 percent stake in MySpace.

With Timberlake's help, the buyers hope to transform MySpace into a destination for original shows, and bolster its already available video content and music. Vanderhook said the revamp will include additional investment in technology and maintain the right to stream music through MySpace Music, the joint venture it has with major recording companies.

"There's a need for a place where fans can go to interact with their favorite entertainers, listen to music, watch videos, share and discover cool stuff and just connect," Timberlake, an Emmy- and Grammy-winning artist, said in a statement. "MySpace has the potential to be that place."

The sale closed a day before the end of News Corp.'s fiscal year, meaning it was able rid itself of about $250 million in losses, a Barclays Capital analyst estimated.

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