MySpace Audience Down, CEO Owen Van Natta Out
Mike Jones, Jason Hirschorn Named Co-Presidents
February 11, 2010 at 9:13 AM (PT)
It seems last week's ALL ACCESS story on MYSPACE's troubles (NET NEWS, 2/4) was just a harbinger of things to come, as CEO OWEN VAN NATTA, who was hired less than 10 months ago to rejuvenate the social network giant, has abruptly resigned. The L.A. TIMES reports he is being replaced by COO MIKE JONES and product chief JASON HIRSCHORN, who have assumed the titles of Co-Presidents.
VAN NATTA, a former FACEBOOK COO, was persuaded by NEWS CORP head RUPERT MURDOICH to take the MYSPACE gig, even though MYSPACE had been overtaken by FACEBOOK in popularity and now even faces a challenge from TWITTER. Last year, in fact, NEWS CORP. took a $403-million write-down in its quarter that ended JUNE 30th for its interactive division, the primary assets of which are MYSPACE and video game website IGN.
According to the TIMES, One of VAN NATTA's "first assignments was to lay off more than 30% of MYSPACE's employees. What's more, he "soon started clashing with NEWS CORP. digital media chief JON MILLER ... One person said that tensions had escalated in recent weeks, culminating in VAN NATTA's departure.
MILLER released a statement, noting,."In talking to OWEN about his priorities both personally and professionally going forward, we both agreed that it was best for him to step down at this time," Miller said.
In the end, 2009 wasn't especially kind to MYSPACE. COMSCORE MEDIA METRIX calculated that it attracted 70 million visitors in December, down from 78 million a year earlier. At the same time, FACEBOOK more than doubled its monthly traffic to 112 million.
What's next for the aging social network? NEWS CORP. wants to convert MYSPACE into a portal that guides users to content such as movies, music, TV shows and games, distancing itself from its social networking origins.