Thomas Anderson is an American entrepreneur and co-founder of the social networking website, ‘MySpace.’ Born and raised in California, US, he was interested in the computers from the very beginning. He obtained two degrees from the ‘University of California’ and also joined a music band as its lead singer. While working as a product tester, he and his colleague Chris DeWolfe founded the website, ‘MySpace,’ in 2003. He was the president as well as the strategic adviser of the website. Anderson came to be known as ‘MySpace Tom’ and was referred as the ‘Soul of the website.’ Initially designed to connect fans with bands and music, the site soon gained popularity with everyone and registered more than 100 million accounts. In 2005, the website was sold for $580 million to Rupert Murdoch’s ‘News Corporation,’ with Anderson as the president of the company. There was a decline in ‘MySpace’ membership as the competition from the rival networking site, ‘Facebook,’ grew in 2008. Anderson was replaced as the president of the company by ‘News Corporation’ and he was no more the default friend on ‘MySpace.’ After his early retirement, Anderson has been busy as a travel photographer.
Childhood & Early Life
Anderson was born on November 8, 1970, in Santa Monica, California. His father was an entrepreneur. He studied at ‘San Pasqual High School’ in Escondido, California. During his high school years, he was a computer hacker and used the pseudonym, ‘Lord Flathead.’ He cracked the security of ‘Chase Manhattan Bank,’ which resulted in a raid from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), but he was not arrested as he was only 14 at that time.
He attended the ‘University of California – Berkeley’ and graduated in 1998 with a degree in English and Rhetoric. Following this, he joined the band, ‘Swank,’ as a lead vocalist. Anderson spent some time in Taiwan and joined the ‘University of California – Los Angeles’, after his return. In 2000, he obtained his second degree in ‘Critical Film Studies.’
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In 2000, while studying at the University of California, he answered an advertisement and got a job as a product tester and copywriter at ‘XDrive,’ a digital storage company. Chris DeWolfe also worked for the same company, which later went bankrupt in 2001. Anderson and DeWolfe together founded a direct marketing company, ‘ResponseBase.’ In 2002, they sold this company to ‘eUniverse,’ the internet marketing company of Brad Greenspan.
In August 2003, Anderson began working with some ‘eUniverse’ employees and started the social networking site, ‘MySpace,’ which later became the first popular internet marketing company. He and DeWolfe developed the first few pages of ‘MySpace.’ The site was created with the aim of connecting the fans with their favorite bands and music. A user could make blogs, interactive profiles and publish posts on the website.
Anderson was the default friend on ‘MySpace,’ and would be assigned as first ‘Friend’ of any new ‘MySpace’ user. In the beginning, it was launched as a competition to ‘Friendster,’ a popular site during that time, which had started erasing fake profiles. With DeWolfe as chief executive officer and Anderson as its president, ‘MySpace’ was officially launched in January 2004.
Anderson founded an internet marketing company, ‘Intermix Media,’ and this company helped ‘MySpace’ gain immense popularity. It helped MySpace become one of the most prominent social networking websites in the US.
‘MySpace’ had (as compared to ‘Friendster’) less rules and restrictions. It became popular with music bands and fans. Some relatively unknown bands enjoyed breakout success because of ‘MySpace,’ which helped spread their music far quickly than the radio or concerts. Even well-known bands such as ‘Nine Inch Nails’ and ‘R.E.M.’ made their song debuts through this site. At one point in 2005, the web traffic statistics of ‘MySpace’ surpassed the most popular search engine, Google.
In 2005, ‘MySpace’ and ‘Intermix Media’ were sold to Rupert Murdoch’s ‘News Corporation’ for $580 million and Anderson was appointed the president of the company. After the company’s acquisition by ‘News Corporation,’ Anderson and DeWolfe relocated their headquarters from Santa Monica to Fox Interactive Media Offices in Beverly Hills.
In 2006, ‘MySpace’ had 106 million accounts and around 230K new accounts were getting created every day. Along with the increasing popularity of the site, the parents, community groups and government bodies were worried that the youngsters, especially the teenagers, were being exposed to potential sex predators. In collaboration with ‘Sentinel Tech Holdings Corporation,’ the company initiated the first national database of convicted sex offenders. Till 2008, ‘MySpace’ retained its position as the most popular networking site.
‘MySpace’ continued to try and add new features like a record label and an alliance with video sharing site such as ‘YouTube.’ However, as the competition from social networking site, ‘Facebook,’ grew in 2008, there was a sharp decline in ‘MySpace’ membership. It tried to re-establish as a music site in 2009. (Later, in 2011 ‘MySpace’ was sold by ‘News Corporation’ to ‘Specific Media’ for $35 million.)
In April 2009, Anderson was replaced as the president of the company by ‘News Corporation’ and then from 2010, he was no longer the default friend on ‘MySpace.’ His name was replaced with a profile ‘Today On MySpace’ or ‘T.O.M.’
In 2009, he essayed a cameo role in the comedy drama movie, ‘Funny People.’
After retiring from the top executive post of ‘MySpace’ in 2009, Anderson has been busy as a travel photographer. He travels around the world and shares his photos, especially landscapes, from such places as Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Maldives, Hawaii, Singapore, on his ‘Instagram’ and ‘Twitter’ accounts.