Tom Freston was famously fired as CEO of Viacom by Sumner Redstone because he let Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation outbid him and buy MySpace for $580 million in 2005. The acquisition proved to be a financial disaster. News Corporation has written off the investment and is currently seeking to offload MySpace if a buyer can be found.
In an interview with CNBC Freston joked that “I’m still waiting for a thank you note” from Redstone for passing on MySpace. “They, I think, had a lot of problems in terms of investing in what they were and maybe they lost their way,” he said of MySpace.
But Freston is bullish on social media. “I think social media is bigger than ever. I mean, it’s a whole new form for discovery and distribution. You know, there’s nothing like personal references and validation and, you know, people talking to each other in terms of getting someone interested in something else. So rather than using Google for search people are buying more stuff on their Twitter feeds or on Facebook that maybe they weren’t interested in, but now they are because it’s validated by personal friendships,” Freston told CNBC.
The former Viacom exec was being interviewed because he is investing in Vice and joining the company’s board. Vice is an irreverent, cutting-edge magazine that has evolved into a multi-media platform.