Internet superhunk and MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta quit right as he was on the cusp of becoming one of our generation's great social networking anti-heroes. He's leaving MySpace just 10 months after taking the job. Update: He was fired.
The LA Times reports today that Van Natta has stepped down as CEO of the News Corp.-owned social network. However, Kara Swisher of All Things Digital reports that Van Natta did not leave by choice. His boss, News Corp. Exec Jon Miller, fired him—but not before Van Natta tried to force out two other top-level execs: COO Michael Jones and Chief Product Officer Jason Hirschhorn.
There were three senior thinkers put in place to fix MySpace and it became clear that not all those voices were needed anymore," said one person close to the situation. "So, Owen was the odd man out.
Last April, Van Natta arrived at MySpace with a plan to save the site and a great backstory: As Facebook's COO he was wronged by Mark Zuckerberg—now he's out for revenge! He would revitalize MySpace and bring Zuckerberg to his knees. Unfortunately, things went sour quickly: Two months after taking his sweet new job, Van Natta laid off 400 MySpace employees, and informed them of their unnecessity by telling them they were "fat" (cut from MySpace's "bloated" body). Charming.
Then, Van Natta retreated from battle with his old buddies at Facebook, claiming that "Facebook is not our competition... we're very focused on a different space." The idea was to turn MySpace into an "entertainment portal," but judging from the site's precipitous decline in users and revenue, that "different space" might as well be the unpopulated vacuum of outer-space. No wonder he'd been recently clashing with Miller, according to the LA Times.
Maybe Van Natta can get a job at Google. We heard they just launched some sort of Twitter thing?