MySpace CEO Van Natta resigns, leaving the social network in turmoil

MySpace has struggled to compete with Facebook and upstart Twitter in recent months. Now, the once reigning social media king will put its remaining clout behind MySpace Music.

MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta has resigned from his post. What's next for MySpace?

Less than a year after signing on as CEO of MySpace, Owen Van Natta has resigned from the post – a departure widely seen as reflective of internal turmoil at the ailing social network. Van Natta, who previously worked at both Facebook and Amazon, was originally hired to replace outgoing MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe and bring a much-need boost of energy to MySpace.

But in the ten months since Van Natta climbed into the captain's chair, MySpace has struggled to compete with Facebook and relative newcomer Twitter. Although MySpace still counts millions of Americans among its user base, monthly traffic is sinking. More importantly, MySpace has lost its luster: In 2010, any social networker worth her salt will be a Facebook user. MySpace? Maybe not.

Compounding problems for Van Natta was an apparent inability to get along with his bosses at News Corp., which owns MySpace. The Los Angeles Times has reported that Van Natta fought frequently with News Corp. digital media chief Jon Miller – a charge which Miller appeared to confirm. "In talking to Owen about his priorities both personally and professionally going forward, we both agreed that it was best for him to step down at this time," Miller told the LA Times.

It's not immediately clear who will replace Van Natta in the longterm. For now, MySpace Chief Operating Officer Mike Jones and product chief Jason Hirschorn have been named co-presidents.

So what's next for MySpace? Well, the social network maintains major clout in the music arena – many bands still use the site to post tour dates and MP3 samples. And according to analytics firm comScore, more than 33 million users regularly tune into MySpace Music. This week, MySpace began rolling out in-stream audio advertisements, similar to the model used by Pandora.

Are you a MySpace user? Are you feeling lonely? Drop us a line in the comments section, or find us on Twitter, @CSMHorizonsBlog.

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