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MySpace chief Owen Van Natta unexpectedly exits

VanNatta Owen Van Natta, the chief executive of News Corp.'s troubled social network MySpace, has a new status update: He has stepped down after just 10 months on the job.

"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," Jon Miller, chief executive of News Corp. digital media, said in a statement.

According to a person close to the company, Van Natta, who was recruited by Murdoch, had recently been clashing with Miller.

He is being replaced by two MySpace executives close to Miller. Former chief operating officer Mike Jones and former chief product officer Jason Hirschhorn, who were also appointed to those posts last April at the same time Van Natta was hired, have been named co-presidents of MySpace.

The three were hired to revitalize the site soon after co-founder Chris DeWolfe left. In the last few years, MySpace has lost its dominance in the social networking market to Facebook.

Last August, News Corp. announced a $403-million write-down for the quarter ended June 30 attributed to its interactive division, the primary assets of which are MySpace and male-focused video game website IGN. It also had $228 million in restructuring charges related to layoffs of 425 employees at MySpace.

Also last August, MySpace acquired music streaming service iLike in an effort to boost its streaming music service. That was part of a larger, and thus far mostly unsuccessful, effort by News Corp. to transform MySpace into an entertainment portal.

(Update, 12:18 a.m., Feb. 11: For more, see the story in today's Times.)

--Ben Fritz and Jessica Guynn, reporting from Los Angeles and San Francisco

Times staff writer Alex Pham contributed to this report.

Photo: Former MySpace chief executive Owen Van Natta. Credit: Jakub Mosur / For The Times

Comments () | Archives (9)

Hope this wasn't old media thinking (Miller) pushing out new media thinking (Van Natta)... if it was, myspace is going to go downhill, real fast.

why not?.....everyone else left....have our social skills diminished to the point where superficially hooking up on one of these bogus sites is all that's left of our once promising culture?.....

MySpace isn't relevant anymore.

I don't think there is anything that could have been done to revive the now irrelevant MySpace. People will continue to flock to Facebook because it is now the "cool" thing. It is very likely that Facebook will someday face the same demise.

myspace = dodo bird

I like Myspace. I definitely prefer it over the plain and simple facebook. I find lots of music which I then turn around and buy from iTunes. As far as usability I think it totally rocks. However, I know that in today's culture it isn't about what is better but what is marketed more effectively to our brain-dead culture. Just my 2 cents.

Facebook is much easier to use. It's chat and other systems flow so much more easily. Myspace will go the way of Friendster.

In it's heyday, myspace was 'it'. Any band or rising star that needed to prove it's current street cred, had a myspace page. Then movie trailers had it in their url's (to show they were down with the kids) Then everybody got in on the act. MySpace sykrocketed. Everybody had to have a page.

Very fashionable back then. But no-one wants to be a part of something considered antiquated. A victim of it's own success?

Now it's virtually dead. Facebook certainly stole its thunder. People migrate to the next big thing.

MySpace quickly downgraded itself with predatory commercialism and a high creep factor. Almost seems as though Sr. Rupert personally soiled it with his muddy fingers. Wouldn't be the first media outlet his touch smudged.


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