MySpace adds two high-ranking posts

Michael Jones, Jason Hirschhorn will be based in L.A.

NEW YORK -- News Corp. on Monday expanded its new management team at social networking arm MySpace, naming Michael Jones COO and Jason Hirschhorn chief product officer, effective immediately.

Both will be based in Los Angeles and report to new MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta.

Jones has founded and operated several online businesses, including Userplane, a provider of tools for online communities such as MySpace. Userplane was acquired in 2006 by AOL, where Jones subsequently served as a senior vp with a focus on social media monetization. In that post, he also distributed widgets and other technology to Web publishers. Most recently, he founded and was CEO of Tsavo Media, an online content and search network developing next-generation publishing platforms and technology services.

Hirschhorn has lent his digital media savvy to various media biggies in recent years. Most recently, he was president of Echostar's Sling Media Entertainment Group, which created consumer-driven applications and services for the Slingbox device. Previously, he was chief digital officer at Viacom's MTV Networks.

Viacom had acquired his Mischief New Media, which provided interactive services to the entertainment industry.

Hirschhorn, 38, and Jones, 33, seem to be relative newcomers to active MySpace lifestyles. Their profiles on the networking service show that they both chose to display their names on MySpace only at the beginning of the month.

"Let's get to it! Time to have some fun!" Hirschhorn said in the status line on his MySpace page, which lists Van Natta as his friend, on Monday.

"1, 2, 3 ... jump!!!" That final part of the message also appeared on his Facebook profile. Hirschhorn also had a smiley that MySpace users can display to show their mood set to "excited."

Meanwhile, Jones' status line on his MySpace page read: "Michael is going to be busy."

The appointments show that News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch and his recently appointed chief digital officer Jon Miller are not wasting time in their effort to reignite MySpace's user growth and buzzworthiness.

Facebook and Twitter have had the upper hand in these departments in recent years. Plus, analysts have said MySpace must improve its monetization, meaning it must get more revenue out of its offers, and cut costs.

"Michael's operational insight and knowledge of the social media market will prove to be a valuable asset as we set out to evolve the MySpace product offering," said Miller. "From a product perspective, there's no better choice than Jason, who is highly regarded as an incredibly talented innovator, media executive and leader, all qualities I know will greatly benefit our team and our users."

Van Natta lauded Jones' "unique background in building and operating successful businesses that fall directly in our sweet spot," adding that Hirschhorn's "reputation for creating compelling consumer experiences that leverage the intersection of technology, design and media is unmatched."
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