This evening MySpace sent out a press release announcing that the company’s CEO, Owen Van Natta, is stepping down and will replaced by Mike Jones and Jason Hirschhorn who will serve as co-Presidents. There are a number of interesting components of this news story. The most interesting is that we’ve been hearing rumors that Owen Van Natta was under strict orders to turn the company and if it wasn’t turned around within 6 months he was out. The other interesting tidbit is that Techcrunch recently published that Jason Hirschhorn was exiting the company.
This news comes at a time when MySpace’s popularity is decreasing rapidly. Whatever Van Natta promised Rupert Murdoch, it’s clear that the promises didn’t come through. This is a black eye for Van Natta, who was previously served as the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook before leaving the company on questionable terms. MySpace has been attempting to redefine themselves as the site has dropped dramatically in terms of traffic. While MySpace still has a solid use base, it’s nowhere near the volume that Facebook now has (400+ million).
The fact that Mike Jones and Jason Hirschhorn are “Co-Presidents” also suggests that there is just as much pressure on the duo before they are removed as executives of the company. Rupert Murdoch clearly is looking for an all star executive who is going to generate a remarkable turnaround for the MySpace brand. He may even have unreasonable expectations however it’s difficult for us to postulate what his expectations are since we’ve heard minimal chatter.
For now, Owen Van Natta is out and the other two executives, Jones and Hirschhorn have move from the deck to at-bat. We’ll have to see how they perform and if no home runs are hit, expect the duo to be out just as quick as Van Natta.