MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe to Step Down

  |  April 23, 2009   |  Comments

Change comes as the News Corp. social media site works to maintain its lead amid faster growing rivals such as Facebook.

MySpace CEO, Chris DeWolfe, announced Wednesday he'll leave the company he founded six years ago.

DeWolfe's departure comes three weeks after News Corp., MySpace's parent company, named Jonathan Miller, former AOL CEO, to the position of chief digital officer, overseeing MySpace and other online properties. The New York Times reported that DeWolfe's departure was involuntary.

Miller, in an announcement, said he is in talks with Tom Anderson, MySpace's president and also a founder, about having Anderson assume a new role in the company. DeWolfe will remain on the board of MySpace China.

MySpace is the largest social network in the United States with 70.3 million unique visitors, according to comScore. According to News Corp., MySpace has 130 million visitors worldwide.

But the site is not growing as fast as Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks.

Unique U.S. visitors to MySpace grew by 3 percent in February 2009 compared to the same month a year ago, according to comScore. In contrast, Facebook's audience grew 77 percent in the comparable period.

DeWolfe, in a statement, said MySpace has grown from seven employees to one with over 1,600, and described the social network as a "very profitable business."

Still, ad revenue was flat at News Corp.'s Fox Interactive Media unit, which includes MySpace, for the most recent financial quarter. Plus, News Corp. has invested money to launch MySpace Music and expand internationally. In January, Fox Interactive Media said it was cutting 5 percent of its workforce, or about 100 jobs.

Michael Nathanson, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Company, told The New York Times that MySpace earned $300 million from a search advertising deal with Google. That deal is set to expire next year.

DeWolfe's departure comes more than three years after News Corp. acquired Intermix Media, which included MySpace, for $580 million.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anna Maria Virzi

Anna Maria Virzi, ClickZ's executive editor from 2007 until 2012, covered Internet business and technology since 1996. She was on the launch team for Ziff Davis Media's Baseline and also worked at Forbes.com, Web Week, Internet World, and the Connecticut Post.

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