January 28, 2007 10:20 pm

MySpace clicks to Canada and Mexico

MySpace is close to launching local versions of its site in Canada and Mexico as part of an aggressive international expansion, with South Korea and China believed to be next on its list.

The online social networking site, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, has doubled the number of people it employs in six months to keep up with its rapid growth.

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The Los Angeles-based company at present employs about 400 people worldwide but is hiring more all the time as revenues grow in the US and as new international offices come on line.

It will soon start its first bilingual operation when it launches a Canadian version of the site, which will be in English and French.

The Canadian site will follow the “soft” launch of a Mexican MySpace site.

Travis Katz, the group’s senior vice-president for international operations, declined to comment on the new country sites but said MySpace was “seeing incredible growth wherever we launch”.

“Thirty million of our 90m unique users are coming from outside the US, which is hugely up from a year ago,” he said. “Our international business is becoming an increasingly important driver of growth.”

The Canadian and Mexican launches will lift the number of active MySpace sites to 11. The group also has sites in the US, UK, Japan, Australia, Ireland, France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

It had hoped to launch 11 country sites by the end of its financial year in June but has met its target six months ahead of schedule. Mr Katz added that MySpace had users from every country in the world.

He said: “But the moment we launch localised sites and populate them with local features, local language and local bands we get a real surge [in traffic].”

MySpace attracts an average of 320,000 new user profiles a day, with 25 per cent coming from outside the US.

This is a sharp increase from 12 months ago, when it was attracting 200,000 new profiles a day on average, with 8 per cent coming from outside the US.

The company, which News Corp acquired for $580m in 2005, has overtaken Yahoo as the most viewed site in the US, according to ComScore, which measures internet traffic.

ComScore said a key driver of the site’s US success was high “engagement levels” with the average MySpace user viewing more than 660 pages per month. Yahoo continues to attract more unique users, however, while YouTube, the online video site, attracts a higher proportion of international users.

Seventy eight per cent of its user base is located outside the US, compared with 36 per cent at MySpace.

Asia represents the next growth opportunity for MySpace. However, the company is tweaking its strategy by first targeting the Asian mobile internet market because of the high level of internet usage over mobile devices in Japan and South Korea.

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