Sunday, April 19, 2009

News Corp. Says MySpace Founder DeWolfe to Step Down

MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe will step down as chief executive officer of the social- networking Web site after falling behind rival Facebook Inc.

A replacement wasn’t named. DeWolfe will remain an adviser, Jonathan Miller, the top digital officer for parent News Corp., said today in a statement. MySpace President Tom Anderson is in talks with Miller about a new role.

DeWolfe co-founded MySpace with Anderson in 2003 and ran the ad-supported company for almost four years under Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Former Facebook Chief Operating Officer Owen Van Natta is likely to replace DeWolfe, the Wall Street Journal’s All Things D Web site reported today. Facebook passed MySpace as the top social-networking site last year.

“I don’t think advertising growth has reached their initial expectations,” said Michael Morris, a New York-based analyst with UBS AG. He rates News Corp. stock “neutral” and doesn’t own it. “The initial hopes of the business probably haven’t been realized.”

A new management structure will be announced in the “near future,” Miller said in the statement.

News Corp. rose 2 cents to $7.78 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have fallen 14 percent this year.

Murdoch hired Miller, a former AOL executive, to oversee News Corp.’s digital business. The April 1 appointment was part of a reorganization to prepare for the departure of President Peter Chernin, the company’s second-in-command.

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