NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe is stepping down, and President Tom Anderson is in talks for a "new role" as News Corp. seeks new management to keep the social network competitive with fast-growing Facebook.
The two founders' contracts aren't set to expire until October, but News Corp.'s newly appointed chief digital officer, Jonathan Miller, is shaking up the management of the social network and is reportedly in talks with former Facebook Chief Operating Officer Owen Van Natta to lead the site.
News Corp. snapped up MySpace and gaming site IGN Entertainment in 2005 in a $650 million deal, considered a bargain given subsequent valuations placed on Facebook and also-ran social network Bebo, which AOL purchased for $850 million last summer.
At the time, MySpace was the clear leader and, unlike Facebook, had made significant inroads into mass-market advertisers, particularly in media and entertainment. But growth at MySpace has flat-lined, and last year Facebook blew past MySpace in terms of international users. New initiatives such as MySpace Music have yet to bear fruit, and MySpace continues to shed users.
Facebook had 274 million unique visitors internationally in February compared with 124 million for MySpace, according to ComScore. Facebook says it recently surpassed 200 million worldwide registered users.
MySpace is still hanging on to a narrow lead in the U.S., but even that is under threat. Facebook had 61.7 million unique visitors in March, according to ComScore, a 6.7% increase from February. MySpace had 70.2 million unique visitors, but it lost 160,000 unique visitors from February and is down 3.6% from last year.
The shake-up is the first significant move by Mr. Miller, the former CEO of AOL who was tapped by News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch to accelerate digital growth at the media conglomerate. Mr. Miller oversees IGN Entertainment, Photobucket and News Corp.'s investment in Hulu in addition to MySpace.