Owen Van Natta leaves MySpace CEO: News Corp.

WASHINGTON: News Corp. announced Wednesday that Owen Van Natta had stepped down as chief executive of social network MySpace, less than a year after taking the job.

News Corp. said Van Natta, a former top executive at MySpace rival Facebook, will be replaced as chief executive by newly elevated co-presidents Mike Jones and Jason Hirschhorn.

Jones, MySpace's chief operating officer, and Hirschhorn, the chief product officer, joined MySpace along with Van Natta in April of last year.

News Corp. said Jones and Hirschhorn will report to Jon Miller, chairman and chief executive of digital media for News Corp.

"Owen took on an incredible challenge in working to refocus and revitalize MySpace, and the business has shown very positive signs recently as a result of his dedicated work," Miller said in a statement,

"However, in talking to Owen about his priorities both personally and professionally going forward, we both agreed that it was best for him to step down at this time," he said. "I want to thank Owen for all of his efforts."

"Mike and Jason have demonstrated true leadership in their operational and product guidance, respectively, and I have the utmost confidence in both of them to lead MySpace into its next chapter," Miller added.

Van Natta, in a statement, described MySpace as "an incredibly unique place" and said it made "real gains in terms of product focus and user experience."

"I'm proud of the work we've all accomplished together and look forward to watching its continued growth," he said.

Jones is the founder of several online businesses, including Userplane, which provides tools for online communities and was acquired by AOL in 2006.

Hirschhorn is a former president of Sling Media and chief digital officer at MTV Networks.

Van Natta, a former chief revenue officer and vice president of operations at Facebook, replaced MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe as CEO at MySpace.

Van Natta previously served as vice president of worldwide business and corporate development for online retail giant Amazon.com.

MySpace was launched in 2003 and was bought by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. in 2005 for 580 million dollars.

Since being supplanted by Facebook in 2008 as the world's most popular social network, MySpace has worked to position itself as a platform for musicians and their fans, and even added karaoke services.