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MySpace chief Owen Van Natta unexpectedly exits

February 10, 2010 |  5:33 pm

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