ILike CEO: Twitter and iPhone are the platforms of the future. (What about MySpace?)
MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta. Credit: Jakub Mosur / For The Times
The most surprising thing about MySpace's acquisition of iLike today isn't that the social music site wasn't getting hitched with Facebook, the platform where the iLike app is most popular. It's that iLike married a social network that's quickly losing relevance. To quote a Death Cab for Cutie song, it's "the sound of settling."
Facebook accounts for about 40% of iLike's traffic -- "pretty substantial," iLike Chief Executive Ali Partovi said in a phone interview a couple of weeks ago. Still, Partovi isn't betting on Facebook or MySpace as the future hangout for his company.
"The platform of the future right now is Twitter and iPhone," Partovi said. "Anybody would tell you that that's where the hearts and minds of the tech community is."
ILike is working on expanding its ties with the two going forward -- at least, those were the plans two weeks ago. The first step toward integrating Twitter and iPhone with iLike was by pulling in bands' tweets to the iLike iPhone apps.
That doesn't mean iLike is pulling out of Facebook -- not voluntarily, at least. That would be nuts to abandon almost half of the site's users. But Partovi acknowledged that ...
... development resources aren't bottomless and that the Facebook app is pretty stable right now without much need for consistent maintenance.
The financial security -- MySpace parent News Corp. has not released details of the deal -- is good news for any start-up. But in terms of bettering its company's position, the gobbling up of iLike's 55 million users is a pretty significant win for MySpace.
Facebook doesn't seem offended by losing its first love. "ILike was one of the first applications to be built on Facebook Platform and has become a success with more than 10 million users," wrote Facebook spokeswoman Brandee Barker in an e-mail. "We expect that users will continue to discover and share music through the iLike application on Facebook."
MySpace Chief Executive Owen Van Natta has similar sentiments. "Our expectation is that the social networks are going to be thrilled with the fact that we're going to be making iLike a richer experience in their environments," Van Natta said.
Van Natta seems to understand that if MySpace wants its new birdie to to grow, it'll have to let it fly around and peck from the hands' of competing social networks for the benefit of its users and clients.
"A lot of them [the musicians] say they can't keep track of all the hot social networks," Partovi said. "MySpace was the hot nightclub, and now Facebook is. And what's next?"
Partovi thinks he has the answer. And it's not the one he signed a deal with.
-- Mark Milian
Follow my commentary on technology and social media on Twitter @markmilian.