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MySpace CEO Steps Down

February 11, 2010

After holding the position for less than a year, MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta is stepping down as head of the struggling social networking site.

News Corp., the owner of MySpace, made the announcement late Wednesday.

Van Natta was Facebook’s former chief revenue officer and is now being replaced by Mike Jones and Jason Hirschhorn, who were promoted to be co-presidents. All three men joined MySpace last April.

Van Natta agreed to resign after discussing his personal and professional priorities, according to Jon Miller, the chairman of digital media for News Corp.

Miller said in a statement that Owen took on an incredible challenge in working to refocus and revitalize MySpace, and the business has shown very positive signs recently as a result of his dedicated work after replacing MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe.

“I’m proud of the work we’ve all accomplished together and look forward to watching its continued growth,” Van Natta said in a statement.

Van Natta racked up around $180 million in restructuring charges after cutting 720 jobs and reducing the site’s work force by about 40 percent. MySpace also broke the lease on bigger office space in west Los Angeles that it no longer needed.

In recent months, the site also stabilized a drop in visitors, although News Corp. said last week its digital properties, including MySpace, experienced a fourth-consecutive quarter of falling ad and search revenue.

MySpace’s digital properties’ profits fell by $32 million and the “other” reporting segment that houses MySpace posted a $125 million operating loss.

Last week, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch said MySpace’s turnaround is “not yet where we want it.” News Corp. paid $580 million for MySpace back in 2005.

Data from research group comScore Inc. showed that MySpace had 70 million unique U.S. visitors in January, up from 64 million in November. Visitors spent an average 127 minutes on the site in the month, up 2.5 percent from December.

MySpace claims its recent visitor gains were because of new offerings such as live streaming events and a cleaner-looking site. The company has attempted to reinvent itself as a hub largely for music listening and discovering entertainment.

In an effort to boost revenues, its “ËœMySpace Music’ joint venture with major recording labels ramped up a trial of audio advertisements on song playlists and album pages.

“Owen took on an incredible challenge in working to refocus and revitalize MySpace, and the business has shown very positive signs recently as a result of his dedicated work,” News Corp Digital Media CEO Jon Miller told the Associated Press.

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