Owen Van Natta, CEO of MySpace, stepped down (some say fired) yesterday and two other executives were named as co-presidents to replace him. John Miller (COO) and Jason Hirshhorn (CPO) were moved to the new positions as the struggling social network tries to find relevance.
MySpace is owned by News Corp, Rupert Murdoch’s media powerhouse. Murdoch knows information and content. With huge franchises like Fox and now Avatar, Murdoch has gained solid control over a large chunk of the news, content, and entertainment markets. His failing is all digital. Murdoch knows content, but he doesn’t know Internet.
Having sold off other online services, like Photobucket, it’s only a matter of time before Murdoch completely walks away from Internet franchises altogether.
His major foray into the Web, MySpace, is struggling for some kind of identity as competitors like Facebook continue to grow and prosper. About the only thing MySpace has going for it is MySpace Music, which seems to be languishing as the company tries (again and again) to revitalize itself and become more than yesterday’s has-been teenie bopper hangout.
MySpace still has a large user base and great potential in some areas, but is being drug down by lack of innovation and by its two major attractions: game apps and an increasingly irrelevant Music section. Indie and unsigned bands fill the music section of MySpace and give it a great base to work from to build a solid niche. Without a solid Chief Tech Officer, though, that’s not likely to happen.
Neither Miller nor Hirshhorn are CTOs, they’re hands-on corporate bureaucrats. Innovation won’t happen there. It may have happened had Van Natta been given free rein to do his thing, but that’s debatable, given his short track record.
So whatever happens, it’s probably a long, painful, slow, ugly goodbye for MySpace as it flounders and, eventually, gives up.