Not all entrepreneurs are successful. Some have bad ideas. Some have less business acumen than a young child. Others have as much business sense as ideas, but are cursed with bad luck. And then there are entrepreneurs like Tom Anderson. So good was his idea, and so good was his ability to bring that idea to life, he now has a net worth that Celebrity Net Worth estimates in the region of $ 60 million. If you were young (or just liked to think you were) in the early 1990s, that number won’t be too surprising. Anderson is the founder of MySpace, the social networking site that managed to take advantage of the zeitgeist and become a cultural phenomenon in the process. It may have been relegated to the pages of history in later years, but at its peak, MySpace attracted more than 200 million users. At its peak, it was estimated to be worth around $ 12 billion.
But Anderson wasn’t just the brains behind the operation, he was his face. He was everyone’s first MySpace friend, and the first person people envisioned when they heard the brand’s name. The famous exhibition photograph of him smiling in a white T-shirt became synonymous with MySpace as its logo, found its way into the cultural psyche, and made Anderson one of the first big stars in tech. But that was then and this is now. Since MySpace left the scene, we’ve seen a hundred social networking sites come and go. So why do the names MySpace and Tom Anderson still resonate with us today? Why do we still remember that smiling face and the white T-shirt so fondly? And how did someone who hasn’t worked for over a decade (as far as we know and he claims, in any case) managed to reach a net worth of $ 60 million?
The firsts years
Anderson was born on November 8, 1970 in Escondido, California. As a kid, he started getting into technology in a big way. By the time he was a teenager, he was hacking into systems under the pseudonym “Lord Flathead.” For a while, no one seemed upset, but when he managed to breach the security of the Chase Manhattan Bank, people (as far as the FBI is concerned) began to sit down and take notice. A full-blown raid followed on Anderson’s home. Fortunately, Anderson managed to evade prosecution due to being only 14 at the time.
After the raid, Anderson retired from piracy and began to focus on his studies. The strategy paid off, and after graduating from high school, he won a place to study English and rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. After leaving Berkeley, he spent a brief period as the lead singer of a band called Swank and an even shorter period living in Taiwan. After returning to the United States, he took a graduate place at the University of California, Los Angeles, graduating in 2000 with a master’s degree in film. But while Anderson may have put his hacking days behind him, he had never lost his interest in the world of technology. When it came time to start looking for work, there was only one sector that interested him.
A chance meeting
While studying filmmaking in Los Angeles, Anderson began looking for a way to earn a little extra money. After responding to an advertisement for a position at a digital storage company called XDrive, he landed a job as a product tester. He liked the company enough to stick around after college, and it was while working there that he met and befriended a guy named Chris DeWolfe, the same Chris DeWolfe that he would create MySpace with. When XDrive went bankrupt in 2001, Anderson and DeWolfe decided to go it alone. Their first attempt at being successful as an entrepreneur came with direct marketing company ResponseBase. A year after launch, they sold it to Brad Greenspan’s eUniverse for an undisclosed sum.
By then, the year was 2002 or, as the kids called it, the year of Friendster. Now remembered as the original social network, Friendster was a revolution. It opened up new ways of interacting, new ways of discovering new bands, new ways of sharing information. After realizing how big Friendster was getting, Anderson, DeWolfe, and some of their eUniverse friends set out to emulate him. The result was MySpace, a social networking site that pulled out the best of Friendster and left the annoying parts for you. As meaww.com points out, by allowing people to choose nicknames and aliases, the platform was able to differentiate itself from other sites and quickly develop a loyal following. However,…