This column was originally published on RealMoney on Sept. 8 at 2:41 p.m. EDT. It's being republished as a bonus for TheStreet.com readers.
As promised, another revolutionary trading idea: I put a little bit of capital to work in
News Corp., of course, has lately become known as "the parent company of MySpace.com," as the mainstream media has finally caught on to the fact that social networking is here to stay.
And by mainstream media, I'm referring to the media reporting on News Corp. -- not News Corp itself. That's because News Corp., itself a former mainstream media company in many ways, was way ahead of its peers when it got MySpace.com for the incredibly cheap price tag of $550 million, a virtual steal.
I remember almost falling out of my chair when I read some of Rupert Murdoch's commentary about the future of media and how the Internet would change the way we consume content several times over the years. I was surprised he had the guts to "pay up" for MySpace.com earlier this year, as it seemed like a lot of money at the time. That was before
basically guaranteed to pay nearly double that to News Corp. for the right to provide search functions on the site.
Why did Google made such a huge guarantee? It is going to generate billions in revenue and profits for itself by leveraging the captive audience of locked-in millions of MySpace.com users. I've had a MySpace.com
page for my band for a long time, and I know I'm locked in there; the network effects of having so many people able to find that page easily cannot be replicated anywhere else. And all those millions of young adults and teens who have built their Web presence -- what I call Web personalities -- on MySpace.com, networking, making friends all over and saving important content, aren't going anywhere, either. Not the vast majority of them, anyway.
And News Corp. is just getting started on the monetization of MySpace.com. It will have to be careful not to alienate the millions of users who make up its base as the site becomes clearly more commercial. Confounding skeptics, the company's been leveraging its de facto standard for social networking on the Internet to continue growing its base as the commercialization begins.
News Corp. has always been a rebellious media company, as the incredible gamble on creating a fourth network surely drove home. Its Internet strategy sure seems to be the closest thing to Google-like growth and profit potential. With the Old World mainstream media properties to protect on the downside, I think the risk for a major hit is rather limited, while the upside potential is probably good for even a double or so over the next several quarters.
So there you have it. I'm putting more money to work. Sure feels good!
At the time of publication, the firm in which Willard is a partner was net long News Corp. and Google, although positions can change at any time and without notice.
Cody Willard is the manager of a hedge fund and a contributor to the
. He is also a regular guest on CNBC's
Kudlow & Company
and an adjunct professor at Seton Hall.
He earned a bachelor's degree in economics at the University of New Mexico. Willard appreciates your feedback --
to send him an email.