MySpace CEO Van Natta Steps Down After 10 Months

MySpace networking

News Corp. named MySpace chief operating officer Mike Jones and chief product officer Jason Hirschhorn as co-presidents to succeed Van Natta, effective immediately, News Corp. said in a statement Wednesday.

Van Natta, previously the No. 2 executive at MySpace rival Facebook, was hired in April 2009 to arrest MySpace's slide in market share. News Corp. bought MySpace in 2005 for $580 million and Van Natta was hired to replace MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe during a management shakeup.

Jones and Hirschhorn were hired at the same time as Van Natta, As co-presidents they will report to Jon Miller, chairman and CEO of Digital Media for News Corp.

News Corp. portrayed Van Natta's departure as a mutual decision. "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," Miller said in the statement. "However, 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."

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The statement quoted Van Natta as saying MySpace had "made real gains in terms of product focus and user experience" in the last year and that he was "proud of the work we've all accomplished together."

MySpace has been trying to reinvent itself as a hub for pop culture, music and entertainment. Last year MySpace acquired digital music services iLike and Imeem.

Last week, in an earnings conference call, News Corp. executives said advertising and search revenue at MySpace had declined and that it was taking longer than expected to reach revenue goals for the site, according to a Thomson Reuters story. The profit contribution of the digital media group to NewsCorp,'s bottom line was down by $32 million from one year before, largely due to MySpace's reduced revenue.

MySpace's financial picture isn't likely to improve this year given that a lucrative $300-million search advertising deal with Google expires in June.