MySpace CEO Abandons Ship As Site's Popularity Diminishes

Dennis Faas's picture

At one time, MySpace was the dominant social networking site on the web, a pioneering force that allowed users to create and regularly customize their own web pages. With the advent of Facebook and micro-blogging site Twitter, however, MySpace's popularity continues to dwindle, and now CEO Owen Van Natta's recent decision to leave has left many wondering what lies ahead for the troubled firm.

According to a report from MySpace parent company News Corp., Van Natta has announced that he will be resigning his seat as CEO of the social networking site after just ten months in the position. For the time being, he'll be replaced by co-presidents and long-time executives Mike Jones and Jason Hirschborn.

News Corp. Hush About Resignation

News Corp.'s chairman, Jon Miller, refused to offer many details about Van Natta's stepping down.

"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. "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."

Although it's obviously very difficult to tell why it was Van Natta decided to step aside, most insiders have pointed to MySpace's steady decline under the weight of heavy competitors Facebook and Twitter, both of whom have stolen the "trendy" image MySpace held exclusively in the earlier part of the last decade.

Last year, Facebook passed MySpace in the number of its American and worldwide user accounts.

Economy, Failed Projects Could Explain Exit

Most certainly Van Natta's hiring ten months ago, replacing former CEO Chris DeWolfe, was an attempt by News Corp. to counteract the site's steady decline.

Unfortunately, a rocky economy has made righting that ship, perhaps through expensive ad campaigns, an unlikely venture at this time. That fact, along with other frustrating obstacles and failed projects (including the site's modest success in focusing on music content), may have been behind Van Natta's decision to quit. (Source:

Experts don't see a bright future for MySpace with Van Natta gone. Discussing the news of his leaving on Thursday, Enderle Group analyst Rob Enderle noted that the Van Natta resignation will leave MySpace "rudderless" for the short term, with a short window beyond that within which to right a sinking ship. (Source:

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