Blog reports stir MySpace reshuffle

CEO Chris DeWolfe will step down

After daylong rumblings throughout the blogosphere, News Corp. confirmed Wednesday that MySpace co-founder and CEO Chris DeWolfe will not renew his contract after it expires in the fall.

News Corp. said the CEO "will be stepping down in the near future" but will be a strategic adviser and continue to serve on the board of MySpace China.

Jonathan Miller, the new chief digital officer at News Corp., said he is in discussions with MySpace president Tom Anderson about a new role in the organization.

"Chris and Tom are true pioneers, and we greatly value the tremendous job they've done in growing MySpace into what it is today," Miller said.

It was unclear whether Miller intends to promote Anderson to the CEO spot.

Media and tech-news site AllThingsD -- like MySpace, owned by News Corp. -- said former Facebook COO Owen Van Natta is also a candidate. He is CEO of streaming-music startup Project Playlist and had been expected to take over MySpace Music, which launched in the fall.

Another possible candidate mentioned by industry watchers Wednesday was ex-Yahoo and Warner Bros. exec Terry Semel.

"At the end of the day, MySpace is an entertainment property, and Semel really knows the entertainment business," said Tom Taulli, founder of valuation-services company BizEquity.com.

Taulli said Facebook could file for an initial public offering as early as summer, putting heat on News Corp. to make more money from MySpace, which it acquired in 2005, and to make sure MySpace does not become akin to Friendster, a former hot property that has fallen out of the limelight.

"Social media is a dangerous game; I can see why alarms are going off," he said. "You just don't hear as much about MySpace as you do about Facebook and Twitter."

Taulli figures Facebook is worth as much as $4 billion, as opposed to $15 billion when Microsoft purchased some of its equity. MySpace is worth as much as $2 billion and Twitter as much as $500 million, he added.

Before News Corp.'s official statement, the blogosphere was engaged in heated speculation -- not unexpected, considering MySpace's legions of Web-surfing fans.

Georg Szalai reported from New York; Paul Bond reported from Los Angeles.


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