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MySpace looks to new head of games as News Corp.'s digital losses mount

May 4, 2010 |  6:20 pm

MySpace named a new executive to lead its games initiative, a key component of News Corp.'s strategy to turn around the struggling social network.

Manu Rekhi, a onetime Google product manager and head of strategy at a Silicon Valley company that develops games for social networks, has been named general manager of MySpace games.

"He'll be a really strong force for us to encourage more game-play and have better relationships with publishers of games and fine-tuning the MySpace system for allowing discovery," said MySpace Co-President Mike Jones.

Casual games such as Zynga's Mafia Wars have been a crucial part of the growth of MySpace's larger competitor, Facebook. They don't only attract users, but also keep them engaged for longer than any other activity as players look to set new high scores and compete with friends. Facebook users spend twice the amount of time on the social network as MySpace users do, according to the most recent data from research firm ComScore.

As a result, MySpace has been wooing game developers to its platform. It revamped its games homepage and previewed the new look in March at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Since then, MySpace has added a half-dozen games to the new platform.

Before joining MySpace, Rekhi oversaw strategy and business development at Lolapps, helping transform the organization from a quiz and gift provider to a maker of games and applications for social networks, including Band of Heroes and Diva Life.

Prior to Lolapps, he was a product manager at Google, where he launched the OpenSocial platform and worked on several Google products including Gmail, Calendar, Orkut and ads.

MySpace is under increasing pressure to revitalize the once-dominant social network.

The digital media group's operating losses increased in News Corp.'s third quarter, which ended March 31. During a call with analysts Tuesday to discuss results, Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch said MySpace is working to build enough online traffic to make it a profitable business.

"We've got to admit the last two or three years I think we made some big mistakes," Murdoch said. "But we got new management now, we start to introduce new features, there will be a lot of changes coming through the summer and we have got to judge at the end of this year. The early indications and they’re only early indications [are] that we’re getting more visitors and they’re staying longer."

-- Dawn C. Chmielewski

Photo of MySpace co-presidents Jason Hirschhorn, left, and Mike Jones at the company's headquarters in Beverly Hills.  (Credit: AP Photo / MySpace)