News Corp. Exploring MySpace CEO Options (Updated)

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MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe has been with the company since its August 2003 launch, seeing it through a 2005 $580 million sale to News Corp. and growing revenue to something approaching a billion dollars a year. 130 million people around the world visit MySpace every month, making it one of the largest sites on the Internet.

And now it may be time for him to step down.

He and co-founder Tom Anderson are reportedly making an aggregate of $30 million/year under a contract signed in 2007. That contract terminates this October and must be renegotiated soon. But MySpace is under a new boss, Jonathan Miller, who joined News Corp. last month as CEO of Digital Media. MySpace is one of his assets, and he may be inclined to make a change in management.

DeWolfe is also dealing with the recent departure of three of his top executives, and more may be on the way.

A top headhunting firm is starting to scour for possible replacements. We’ve spoken directly with one person who was contacted by the firm and asked to give recommendations for possible candidates. One source close to News Corp. says that no firm has been officially retained to do a search, but won’t comment further or make any explanation as to why calls are being made.

One thing DeWolfe has always had is a close working relationship with News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, who has protected him in past conflicts with other News Corp. execs. But that very relationship has been a thorn in the side of his various managers over the years. There are people at News Corp. gunning to knock DeWolfe out of the company. The question is whether Murdoch and Miller will protect him. And, of course, there is always the chance that DeWolfe will simply leave the company. Its high growth days are likely behind it, a new type of manager may be better suited to running the company going forward.

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