Owen Van Natta named MySpace CEO

John Sykes will take over his role at Playlist

NEW YORK -- News Corp. has picked former Facebook top executive Owen Van Natta as the new CEO of its MySpace social networking site.

Van Natta, 39, will be based in Los Angeles and report to Jonathan Miller, News Corp.'s recently appointed CEO of digital media and chief digital officer.

Industry chatter had in recent days focused on Van Natta, who had previously been seen as a candidate to run MySpace Music.

His appointment, which is effective immediately, comes just days after MySpace co-founder and head Chris DeWolfe agreed not to renew his contract, which expires in the fall. The once high-flying MySpace has seen rival Facebook and Twitter get most of the buzz and user growth as of late. Its ability to grow its revenue and profit has also fallen behind the hopes of many on Wall Street.

Van Natta is seen as an experienced executive with a track record of developing online businesses and boosting their revenue.

Most recently, he served as CEO of digital music firm Playlist.

He was previously chief revenue officer and vp operations at Facebook, where he helped negotiate Facebook's $240 million investment from Microsoft. Before that, he was vp worldwide business and corporate development for Amazon.com.

"Owen combines a deep understanding of social networking, a keen business sense and the operational experience to guide MySpace through its next phase of growth," Miller said. "I plan to work closely with Owen to shape our long-term vision around this vibrant community that already attracts more than 130 million users worldwide."

Said Van Natta: "I'm thrilled to have the privilege to pilot MySpace in what is sure to be an incredibly exciting and rewarding next chapter for the business."

Meanwhile, Playlist said it has picked board member and entertainment industry veteran John Sykes as its new CEO.

The co-founder of MTV, former president of VH1 and former CEO of Infinity Broadcasting, Sykes has a deep background in music and media management.

"John was a pioneer of the MTV revolution that forever changed the music industry landscape by giving fans a whole new way to discover and enjoy music," said Bob Zangrillo, chairman of Playlist.

Said Sykes: "Creating and sharing playlists has become a phenomenon in our culture. With over 43 million registered users, Playlist is the No. 1 site where fans go to discover, share and enjoy their favorite music."