Whether you're a MySpace addict or a Luddite who logged on once to see what all the fuss was about, you've likely met Tom. As the public face of MySpace, cofounder Tom Anderson has become a celebrity since the site launched in 2003 because he's every user's first "friend": when you join MySpace, your profile is automatically linked to his. But it turns out that Tom, who, along with cofounder Chris DeWolfe, made a fortune when News Corp. bought MySpace for $580 million in 2005, may have a secret: his real age. According to public documents obtained by NEWSWEEK—including professional license information, voter registration and utility and telephone service applications—Anderson is five years older than he claims. His online profile currently lists his age as 32, but it appears he was actually born on Nov. 8, 1970, meaning he'll turn 37 next week, not 33. (Happy birthday, Tom!)
Is it a big deal? Anderson, who has said he was 27 when MySpace launched, built an empire by tapping into the youth market. History might've unfolded differently if those first few users had known that the site's hipster co-architect was already well into his 30s. "Young people don't want someone their dad's age running a site they think is cool," says Pete Cashmore, the founder and editor of Mashable.com, a blog that covers social networking.
Rumors about Anderson's age began to spread last week, when the blog TechCrunch suggested that he was 36 or 37. Anderson and MySpace declined multiple requests for comment, and the company would not confirm his birth date. "I'm pretty bummed out about it," says 25-year-old Andrew Haynes, a Seattle comedian. "I've always taken MySpace with a grain of salt, but Tom was my first friend. It's kind of messed up that he lied to me." Either way, he's laughing all the way to the bank.