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Advising MySpace on their Platform…

When I moved to San Francisco, just over a year ago, I came with three intentions:

  • To get further involved in social software, ideally social networking
  • To continue to my interest in platforms and API’s
  • To get involved with start-ups

I’ve already been working API stuff with Orange Labs, but with the two announcements I’ve got this week, I’m pleased to say that I’ve managed to achieve all my three goals (gosh, I’m going to need to think of three more!).

MySpace comes to San Francisco

So first up, I’m absolutely delighted to announce that I’m going to be working with MySpace to help advise them with their platform project(s). It’s an incredible, much talked about project (sometimes inaccurately), and I’m honored to have been invited to work on this with them.

MySpace approached me a few months back to see whether I’d be interested in working with them on this, and we’ve been discussing it for some time since. During that period they put their hat into the Google OpenSocial ring, which made the opportunity even more interesting!

BTW: that’s why you’ve not read anything about OpenSocial from me on the blog. I’m still yet to find out how OpenSocial fits into MySpace’s wider strategy – but perhaps that’s something I’ll be working with them to work out – which is why I can’t really about it talk much until I know what’s what.

So, there have already been raised eyebrows from a couple of close confidants upon informing them of my decision to work with MySpace, a subsidiary of Fox/News International, especially as I’ve always aligned myself with the values of the BBC. In the past, I’ve gone on record to say I’m not a fan of Fox News’s agenda and it’s one of the reasons I have decided not to own a TV here in the USA.

My reasons for taking on this gig are twofold: Firstly, I’m confident that MySpace is sufficiently separate to Fox News and no part of my contract involves working on anything to do with Fox News – in fact Fox News is an entirely different company as I understand it. Secondly, I’m particularly minded the project I’ve been asked to work on has values centered on open data and 3rd-party community development – values which I hold dear.

Passing up this contract would be a missed opportunity to help MySpace offer its 200m+ users the kinds of platform features we all want to see out of our chosen social networks.

When it comes to opportunities around platforms, MySpace really has been the 800lb gorilla in the social networking corner and it is tremendously exciting to think about the shear potential this project could have upon the social networking landscape.

I’m going to be working with MySpace 4 days a week out of their brand new San Francisco office, with one of those days spent down at MySpace HQ in Beverley Hills.

But there’s more…


I’m also thrilled to be in final negotiations with a white-hot startup, recently announced on TechCrunch. The idea is fantastic, the team is fantastic and it also looks to be a lot of fun.

I’m going to be advising them 1 day a week on a number of things – but this time not so much platform stuff but more general product development and perhaps a bit of evangelism to-boot. I can’t go into specifics otherwise it might identify the company in question – which I don’t want to do until everything is signed.

However, what I will say is that I’m simply stoked at the thought of working with these guys.


I shall be continuing my independent consultant status here in USA, which means I shall be consulting for both companies on a contract basis rather than taking employment with either company. I shall be concluding my consultancy with Orange Labs next week – I shall miss the team there, you guys rock!

Published in Media2.0 MySpace News


  1. Congrats. I’m sure you’ll be able to help them succeed.

    I do like you how love to point out how GDI you are… Never tied down to one company. 🙂

  2. Ben Ben

    @David: thanks!

    I have to stress that all the time because people naturally assume I’m going to be employed with the companies I work with – and then they don’t come to me with opportunities because they assume I’ll be out of the job market for a few years.

    I work on short term contracts, and it can often take 2 months+ to get a big contract agreed – so always gotta be out there looking for the next (possible) opportunity!

    Also, I worked bloody hard and put up a lot of capital to get my ‘independent status’ on my TN visa so I want to make sure I get the most of it!

    Personally, I never want to ‘comoditize my labor’ again by being employed – but that’s mainly because I’m lucky to be able to succeed as an independent consultant.

  3. It’s amazing what can be accomplished in only a year. Keep the Open Data approach first and foremost! The white-hot wouldn’t be Seesmic would it? 🙂

  4. Looks like it could be fun – and fun for us watching what you may come up with.

    Of course, this is likely to go to the spam pile like they usually do 😉

  5. Or not….that’s the first one in ages that has gone through!

  6. @Merredith @Merredith

    Well now your position on “ClosedPrivate” (vs. OpenSocial) at DeFrag makes even more sense. Congrats, sounds like you’ve accomplished a ton this year.

  7. @Merredith @Merredith

    P.S. — still will be getting my news through the BBC and never FOX, thankyouverymuch. Congrats anyway.

  8. Congrats Ben! Awesome work. I’m really looking forward to seeing what you achieve (and also the announcement of your next three goals :)).

  9. Congrats to you Ben, all the best. I hope we cross paths while you’re at MySpace

  10. Well done Ben! These both sound like excellent opportunities and I have every confidence you’ll have a very positive impact.

  11. […] Check it out! While looking through the blogosphere we stumbled on an interesting post today.Here’s a quick excerptMySpace approached me a few months back to see whether I’d be interested in working with them on this, and we’ve been discussing it for some time since. During that period they put their hat into the Google OpenSocial ring, … […]

  12. Totally agree with your avowed contractor status. Particularly in the current market place with so many hot opportunities around, I’d be very wary of taking a job and getting sucked into one organisation and its solus perspective. So good on you!

  13. Ben Ben

    @TedC “It’s amazing what can be accomplished in only a year.” Yeah, it is. But curiously I don’t consider this last year particularly successful for me personally. I’m pleased to have been able to help Orange out with their projects and I’ve enjoyed working with the team there. But I’m mindful that I didn’t come all the way from UK to San Francisco to work with an Anglo-French telco.

    Citizen Agency, when I first moved out here, was at best a 6-month opportunity cost and at worst a bit of a gamble that went wrong (for me). Chris and Tara are enjoying what they are doing with Citizen Agency but I’m not ashamed to say that I came out here to leverage my experience and earn a premium wage for my wife and I, and I couldn’t do that at CA. I still wish Tara and Chris all the luck in the world for CA, not that they need it – they are enjoying what they are doing.

    @Rachel Clarke, yes I whitelisted your email! I’m really finding Akismet is not working out for me, it eats an incredible amount of genuine posts – but then I also get 3-4 spam posts a minute 🙁

    @Merredith. “Well now your position on “ClosedPrivate” (vs. OpenSocial) at DeFrag makes even more sense.” Yes, I wished I’d had everything signed by that point and could have made some announcements during Defrag 🙁

    “P.S. — still will be getting my news through the BBC and never FOX,” — same here!

  14. way to go ben – they are lucky to have you.

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