MySpace Co-President Hirschhorn Leaves; Jones to Lead
Hirschhorn, who joined Los Angeles-based MySpace last year, is returning to New York, News Corp. Chief Digital Officer Jon Miller said today in an e-mailed statement. Co-President Mike Jones will lead the business, and there are no plans to bring in additional management, Miller said.
MySpace already has gone through a management shakeup this year as usage declines. Hirschhorn and Jones were promoted to co-presidents in February after Owen Van Natta stepped down as chief executive of the unit. A former Facebook executive, Van Natta resigned less than a year after he was hired to replace co-founder Chris DeWolfe.
“Jason is like family to me, and as expected, he’s done everything we asked of him and more,” Miller said. “As I know Jason agrees, Mike Jones has done an outstanding job leading MySpace into its next evolution and is the right person to take the reins.”
Hirschhorn was brought on as chief operating officer and Jones as chief product officer in April 2009, three days after Van Natta was hired.
“Yes I am moving back to NYC. Concrete jungle where dreams are made of,” Hirschhorn said on Twitter. “I believe in MySpace, its leader Jonesy and its wonderful team.”
MySpace spokeswoman Tracy Akselrud confirmed in an e-mail that the resignation is effective at the end of the month. TechCrunch.com reported Hirschhorn’s resignation earlier today.
As co-presidents, Hirschhorn and Jones aimed to reduce clutter on users’ profile pages and expand music, movie and game features, according to a March interview. The new offerings, designed to foster interaction around entertainment, were to be introduced in stages over the year.
MySpace lost 12 percent of its worldwide users in the 12 months through April, bringing the total to 111.2 million unique visitors, according to ComScore Inc. In the U.S., the tally dropped 2.6 percent to 69.2 million. Meanwhile, Facebook steadily climbed. Unique visitors are up 69 percent to 519.1 million worldwide, and in the U.S. they’re up 80 percent to 121.8 million, according to ComScore.
‘Work in Progress’
“MySpace is a work in progress,” said Chase Carey, News Corp.’s chief operating officer, on a May 4 earnings conference call. Carey said the goal was for MySpace to be cash-positive going into 2011.
Revenue for News Corp.’s “other” business category, which includes digital properties such as MySpace, fell 31 percent to $327 million in the quarter ended March 31. Sales at the digital properties were dragged down by lower search revenue, according to a regulatory filing.
“We’ve got to admit that in the last two or three years, I think, we made some big mistakes but we got to find new management now, we’ve started to introduce new features, there will be a lot of changes coming through the summer and we have got to judge it at the end of this year,” News Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch said on the May call.
MySpace has been working on a new advertising deal to replace the $900 million multiyear partnership with Google Inc. that expires this month.
News Corp.’s Class A shares fell 1 cent to $14.15 in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. They have risen 3.4 percent this year.
Hirschhorn’s departure comes on the same day that AOL Inc. announced it sold its smaller social-networking site Bebo to Criterion Capital Partners LLC. The sale price was less than 2 percent of the $850 million that AOL paid for it two years ago.
AOL received less than $10 million for Bebo, said a person familiar with the matter, who declined to be identified since the price wasn’t made public.
Murdoch purchased MySpace’s parent company in 2005 for $580 million as part of an effort to add more online advertising to his traditional media outlets of newspapers, television and film. The site was the most-popular social-networking service at the time, allowing users to create unique pages with music, blog postings, pictures and comments from friends.