Van Natta Steps Down as MySpace CEO

Owen Van Natta

Owen Van Natta has stepped down as CEO of social networking site MySpace, effective immediately. The announcement comes less than a year after Van Natta took over as MySpace’s top executive; he will be replaced as CEO by two executives acting as co-Presidents, former COO Mike Jones and Chief Product Officer Jason Hirschhorn. Van Natta, Jones, and Hirschhorn all joined MySpace in April of 2009.

No specific reasons were given for Van Natta’s departure, save for this statement by News Corp’s Digital Media CEO Jon Miller: 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.”

Van Natta came to MySpace after a three-year stint as chief operating officer and chief revenue officer at rival social networking site Facebook.

Under Van Natta’s leadership at MySpace, the operation reduced its workforce by about 40 percent—meaning it cut over 700 jobs—incurring about $180 million in restructuring charges but putting the company’s finances on a stronger footing. However, MySpace is continuing to struggle against social networking services like Facebook as it revamps itself into more of a destination for online music; News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch recently described MySpace’s regrouping as “not yet where we want it.” However, although MySpace’s ad and search revenue continues to decline, the site has managed an uptick in unique visitors in recent months.

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