Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Van Natta a Good Hire for News Corp's MySpace

The two co-founders of MySpace, Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson, have stepped aside or been pushed out by News Corp's (NWS) Rupert Murdoch and new digital boss Jonathan Miller.

Kara Swisher is reporting that former Facebook No. 2 Owen Van Natta will get the top job.
It's a good move for NWS. After buying MySpace for $500 million, and hearing cat-calls from critics, Murdoch's purchase was soon viewed as one of the biggest steals of the decade, given the social networking site's early explosive growth. Soon, MySpace signed a $900 million advertising deal with Google (GOOG), which essentially paid NWS back for the entire purchase and then some.

Yet, the GOOG deal is coming to a close, and there's little chance of renewal at similar terms. MySpace, despite huge traffic, has stalled in terms of its growth relative to Facebook and Twitter. It's no longer the shiny new toy it once was.

Van Natta is a well-respected exec who has worked closely with Jeff Bezos (his former boss) and Steve Ballmer (with whom he worked on partnership deals when he was the No. 2 at Facebook). On paper, he's the right guy with the right experience to lead MySpace now (and hopefully stick it to his former boss, Mark Zuckerberg).

MySpace may be a laggard in the social networking space, but its size and user base could still be turned around to the benefit of the NWS mothership again.

Originally published in RealMoney.com on 4/23/2009 7:53 AM EDT

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