MySpace Tom now – social media pioneer’s new life after retiring at 38

Before social media began to dominate our lives with ads and algorithms, the Internet was a simpler place. When Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp went down earlier this week, thousands of people took to Twitter calling for the return of sites like Myspace.

Once the most popular social media platform in the world, Myspace allowed users to customise their own profile pages, add and interact with their friends, and RSVP to events and concerts.

At the peak of its success, it was sold to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp for $580 million in 2009, and was quickly overtaken by challenger Facebook. It was eventually resold for a fraction of its value to Justin Timberlake in June 2011, with Murdoch admitting he had made a 'huge mistake' in buying the social network.

But perhaps the most memorable person on everyone's Myspace, and many people's first Internet 'friend', was Myspace Tom. Tom Anderson, the founder of the site, was automatically the first friend on user profiles and best-known for a grainy profile picture of him in a white t-shirt.

In his earlier years, Anderson's life was somewhat less wholesome. After hacking a bank at age 14, he and his friends were subject to one of the largest FBI raids in Californian history.

Fifty agents stormed the homes of Tom and his friends and seized 25 personal computers. Tom avoided arrest and moved to Taiwan after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley.

While Myspace is still active, mostly as a music platform, Anderson's involvement ended long ago. After making a fortune selling the company, Myspace Tom took an early retirement at age 38—something the likes of workaholic Mark Zuckerberg no doubt wish they had done.

Since then, Anderson has been enjoying retired life in Hawaii as a travel photographer with a net worth of $65 million, and is an investor in Elon Musk's SpaceX as well as the gene editing tool CRISPR.

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His Instagram, which has a cool 643,000 followers, sees him sharing snaps of luxury trips to the Philippines, the Maldives, and Iceland. His bio reads: "Former 1st friend! Surfing, travel / photos, architecture-design, DogDad".

When Facebook and Instagram went down the other day, people took to Twitter calling for Myspace Tom to make a comeback.

"Facebook, Instagram, and [Whatsapp] are all down. You know what never went down? Myspace. Tom was a true friend and we all need to put some respect on his name," said one Twitter user.

"Myspace Tom really needs to capitalize here and make a comeback. Tom didn't want to own the entire planet. He didn't want to sell our information to advertisers and control all aspects of the media. He just wanted to make a few million and go on vacation. Tom was our friend," wrote another.

Myspace still gets millions of hits every month, and focuses in particular on news, music, and profiles of artists. Whether it will ever return to its peak of popularity remains to be seen.

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