With its CEO gone, where next for MySpace?

12 Feb 2010

In a world dominated by Facebook and Twitter – and with Google Buzz elbowing in – MySpace’s increasing lack of relevance has been compounded by the sudden departure of CEO Owen Van Natta. Is this the end for the once-mighty social-networking dinosaur?

Vacant throne

No sooner has Van Natta warmed the CEO seat left vacant by predecessor Chris DeWolfe in April 2009 than he was plucked from his position by News Corp.

This former chief revenue officer for Facebook and vice-president of worldwide business and corporate development at Amazon seemed to barely have time to work his magic on the fast fading empire of MySpace.

Amidst rumours of internal conflict, the outward face of the social-networking site is being patched with promising services like MySpace Music, but the teens are flocking to Facebook and the celebs are broadcasting from Twitter, leaving a big rattling room to fill.

A brief history of MySpace

MySpace became a byword for online self-expression and interaction in the early naughties. Launched in 2003, the site soared to become the most popular social-networking site in the US by summer 2006 and the 100 millionth account was created a few months later.

Before ‘social networking’ was a ubiquitous term, MySpace ruled, was regularly referenced in TV shows and Hollywood movies, and earned revenue through targeted advertising.

In 2005, the site was bought by News Corp for US$580 million, and the firm is still trying to make money on it.

It got a makeover in 2008, significantly improving the user interface, but by this time many users had already began the migration to Bebo and Facebook. However, the site continued to be tweaked, adding MySpace apps so that users could include Twitter updates, favourite YouTube videos and Last.fm playlists.

Where to next?

Things are looking uncertain for MySpace. Last year, at the Web 2.0 summit in San Francisco, News Corps’ internet business manager, Jonathan Miller, said the company had stopped innovating.

“The thing you see in this space more than anything else is that if you don’t keep innovating and moving forward, you get in trouble. You can’t stop. And MySpace stopped,” he said, as reported on PCWorld at the time.

By Marie Boran

Photo: Owen Van Natta, former CEO of MySpace