Less than a month ago I asked the MySpace Co-Presidents, Mike Jones and Jason Hirschhorn (pictured left), if it was possible to effectively run a company with two equal leaders. Their answer – they’ve made it work. I asked if they were both there for the long term. Jones said “Assuming News Corp. will have us we’re going to stay heavily engaged.” I’ve added the video clip below.
Well, you know what they say about assumptions. Tomorrow MySpace will announce the departure of Jason Hirschhorn, we’ve heard from multiple sources inside and outside of MySpace. And we’ve also heard that Jones will be named CEO sometime soon, although likely not tomorrow.
The two were promoted to co-presidents in February when previous CEO Owen Van Natta was fired. Van Natta held the CEO spot for less than a year – he was hired to replace founding CEO Chris DeWolfe in April 2009.
Yes, it’s been musical chairs at MySpace. Or, a less charitable description: rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
The company hasn’t just lost the cultural significance of being the top social network – a title they lost to Facebook long ago. They are also losing page views and users at a rapid clip. MySpace Music is hemorrhaging money to the labels. And their lucrative search deal with Google is ending in two weeks, and the company has yet to announce how they’ll replace that revenue.
For all those reasons and more, I’ve argued passionately that MySpace needs to be spun off into a private company. They can’t please News Corp. and find a way to win with users at the same time. Publicly Jones says he disagrees. Who knows what he thinks privately.
Update: Statement by Jon Miller, Digital Chief for News Corp.:
Statement from Jon Miller, Chief Digital Officer, News Corporation Confirming the Departure of Jason Hirschhorn, Co-President of MySpace
Los Angeles, CA , June 17, 2010 — We fully respect Jason’s decision to leave and his personal desire to return to New York. As many people know, Jason is like family to me, and as expected, he’s done everything we asked of him and more. We’re incredibly grateful for the passion and enthusiasm he brought to the company. And as I know Jason agrees, Mike Jones has done an outstanding job leading MySpace into its next evolution and is the right person to take the reins. There are no plans to bring in additional management.
MySpace is one of the world’s largest social networks, with about 125 million users. Originally inspired by Friendster, MySpace quickly grew to become the world’s largest social network, before being overtaken by Facebook. User pages are highly customizable and support integration with widgets such as Slide or YouTube. MySpace provides users with a way to connect around content and culture. MySpace was started as a side project of the internet marketing company eUniverse (now called Intermix Media) in August...
Michael Jones the CEO of Science, an angel investor, board member and advisor to startups up and down the west coast. Mike is the former President of MySpace and former Senior Vice President of AOL. As founder and CEO, he built Userplane from a startup services business to an applications provider and an AOL subsidiary. After leaving AOL Jones started Tsavo, a web media company that launched with a rumored $20m in financial backing. His time as Tsavo’s CEO...
Mr. Hirschhorn joined Sling Media in December, 2006 to preside over the newly created Sling Media Entertainment Group. The Sling Media Entertainment Group was formed to define and create even richer and more engaging experiences for Slingbox customers as well as their family and friends. Mr. Hirschhorn is tasked with delivering entirely new applications and services enabled by the Slingboxâ€™s marriage of familiar TV programming and richly interactive Web-connected devices. Before joining Sling Media, Hirschhorn was a Founding Partner at...