MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta, plucked from Facebook in 2009, has stepped down from the top position according to a News Corp. press release. News Corp., headed by Rupert Murdoch, hired Van Atta for the position nine months ago.
Van Atta is to be replaced by co-presidents Mike Jones and Jason Hirschhorn.
Van Atta was hired to to turn the company around. Once the most popular social media destination, Myspace has lost both members and ad revenues over the past few years.
It was Van Atta's job to differentiate MySpace from the crowd by turning the social media network into a music portal, highlighting performers, videos, and online games. This strategy put MySpace into direct competition against established sites like YouTube and Hulu.
Thus far, Van Atta's efforts have failed. According to comScore, "MySpace saw its U.S. user base fall 5 million to 57 million in December." Globally, Facebook has four times the number of unique monthly users.
Earlier in January, Rupert Murdoch stated MySpace was not performing as well as he had hoped. However, The Wall Street Journal, another News Corp. property, stated Van Atta had been fired due to tensions in the top executive positions at MySpace.
In fact, the two co-presidents, who were also brought in to help change MySpace's direction, were reportedly part of Van Atta's struggles.
“There were three senior thinkers put in place to fix MySpace, and it became clear that not all those voices were needed anymore,” said one person close to the situation. “So, Owen was the odd man out.”
The MySpace executive team is busy overhauling the site, making changes to the underlying structure, and incrementally introducing changes to users. MySpace doesn't believe that they'll win back those who have shifted allegiances to Facebook. The changes are designed to allow MySpace to compete in their new space as an entertainment hub.
Van Atta's ouster occurred just as MySpace was repairing many of its services and products, stabilizing their user base. MySpace stock was down 2 points following Van Atta's departure.