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MySpace CEO, Owen Van Natta, Steps Down

Last week, after less than a year on the job, Owen Van Natta stepped down as chief executive of social networking site, MySpace.  Reports have suggested that his leaving was the result of tension with Jonathan Miller, the former chief executive of AOL who now operates as the head of News Corp's digital businesses. However, a leading media expert has said that interference from its owner, Rupert Murdoch, has left the business in a state of "total desperation".

In 2005, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation astounded the media industry by spending $580m on MySpace, at that time a rising force in the rapidly expanding business of social networking. With the acquisition, News Corp believed it had gained a major lead in online media through a site that boasted a huge following and good relations with the music industry.

Although the site has produced plenty of profits for News Corp – at one time, advertising on the home page alone was valued at $1m a day – a series of missteps has left it in chaos, struggling for success as its rivals flourish. MySpace has about 57 million users in the US, down from a peak of more than 75 million. Facebook, meanwhile, has experienced incredible expansion in the past 18 months and now boasts more than 400 million users worldwide.

The shift of power has also had material implications. Last year Google chopped the value of a contract with MySpace to provide search services by $100m after the social network missed its traffic targets. The company has sold off a number of small properties that it had acquired and slashed more than 700 jobs worldwide, nearly half its total workforce.

History is not on the side of MySpace. Social networking has been a graveyard for the media industry, with users quick to leave behind sites that fail to continue innovating, in favor of fresh, faster rivals.


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