Former Facebook COO Owen Van Natta is the frontrunner to replace Chris DeWolfe as MySpace CEO. Blog lordling Jason Calacanis has been jokingly nominated for the News Corp. gig. Here's who should get it.
Van Natta, who has long aspired to run a consumer Internet startup, is an obvious choice. Having fallen out of favor with Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's fickle 24-year-old CEO, he is spending his exile running a music startup, called Project Playlist, out of an office building shared with Facebook. While Van Natta has managed to extricate Playlist from some of its legal troubles with the music labels, it hardly seems like a gig that encompasses his ambitions. Having worked for Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos as well as Zuckerberg, Van Natta seems capable of dealing with a testy owner-CEO like Rupert Murdoch.
Calacanis, meanwhile, has no qualifications for the job. He tanked his first media company, then sold his second one, Weblogs Inc., for $25 million to AOL, where he accomplished nothing of note after the acquisition. He's since raised far too much money for Mahalo, a Web 2.0 rehash of Yahoo's 1995-era Web directory. Silicon Alley Insider thinks he should be MySpace's new CEO because he worships Jon Miller, the former AOL CEO who played mentor to him before Miller was fired and Calacanis quit. Ever the clever fameball, Calacanis is playing coy and saying "No comment" as loudly as possible.
Miller now runs News Corp.'s Internet operations, so he's the one to pick DeWolfe's successor. We have a suggestion: Hire both! Van Natta can do the hard work of fixing MySpace. While he's affable enough, he hardly seems to crave attention.
Tom Anderson, DeWolfe's sleazy sidekick at MySpace, is every MySpace user's first friend when they sign up. He needs a replacement, too. Why not replace him with Calacanis, the ultimate Web fameball, who seems to measure his self-worth by his number of Twitter followers? He doesn't need any other responsibilities. And as MySpace's Chief Ego Officer, he can still claim to be CEO.