Neville Hobson

European expansion for MySpace, the online social network, is often a topic I include in presentations and workshops about social media and social computing.

The context is on the growth of cybercommunities and, in the case of, its rapid and growing appeal to younger people, the broad group Business Week dubbed in its December 2005 special report on MySpace as ‘Generation @.’

According to Alexa Internet, today is number 4 of the top 500 English-language websites worldwide and number 5 in the top 500 of any language. And according to CNET News, is attracting new members at the astounding rate of some 250k per day, which would give it a current accumulated number of signups as around 90 million.

It’s not hard to see why News Corporation paid over half a billion dollars last July to acquire Intermix Media which owns MySpace.

Until recently, though, MySpace has been largely a North American phenomenon with not much meaningful penetration elsewhere in the world.

That’s about to change according to expansion plans outlined in the Financial Times yesterday which reports that MySpace is to use the UK as a beachhead for a push into Europe that will see it link up with “old media” companies and mobile phone operators to attract more users:

[…] Chris DeWolfe, co-founder and chief executive of MySpace, told the Financial Times on Monday that he had earmarked 11 countries for its international expansion, among them France and Germany, and was looking at China and India over the longer term.

The company will on Tuesday announce that David Fischer has been appointed as managing director for the UK and Europe. Mr Fischer, 40, was founder and chief executive of Xlantic Group, a music marketing company, and has worked at Pressplay and AOL Europe.

Mr Fischer, who will be responsible for negotiating with television and music content owners to develop local versions of MySpace, said the first foreign-language sites would be ready later this summer.

He is also looking for alliances with mobile operators to deliver content over mobile phones, an area where Mr DeWolfe predicted “significant” revenues. “I think most [mobile operators] think the killer application could be MySpace.” is not about blogs as some people think. Here’s the best description I’ve yet heard:

MySpace is the new cell phone, the new interactive e-mail, the new […] It’s a way to keep in touch or meet new people.

It’s definitely a business to watch with keen interest, especially as competitors aren’t sitting on their hands.

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