Three MySpace Execs Departing To Start New Company (Leaked Memo)

This just breaking: Three executives at MySpace are leaving the company to form their own startup, led by COO Amit Kapur (pictured here). He will be joined by senior VP of technology Jim Benedetto and and senior VP of product strategy Steve Pearman. They have internally announced their departures, we have been able to confirm with the company.

MySpace is well into its monetization phase, and is facing increasing competition from Facebook, which is larger worldwide than MySpace and may soon overtake it in the U.S. as well. The growth and the big rewards that go with growth, may now be easier to find elsewhere. Kapur, Benedetto, and Pearman are voting with their feet.

Possible successors to Kapur for the COO post include Adam Bain (a FIM hotshot who heads up the Fox Audience Network), Jeff Berman (head of sales and marketing for MySpace), and Travis Katz (head of MySpace international). External candidates, assuming they’d want the job, might be departing Yahoo Mobile exec Marco Boerries, former Yahoo SVP Brad Garlinghouse, Playlist CEO Owen Van Natta (who at one point was considering the MySpace Music CEO position), or Benchmark’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence Dave Goldberg.

Below is the memo just sent out by MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe:

From: Chris Dewolfe
Sent: Tuesday, March 03
To: FIM MySpace All

Hi everyone,

I want to notify you of some changes occurring to the senior executive team at MySpace.

Amit Kapur, our Chief Operating Officer, will be leaving the company to start a new venture. Many of us who have been lucky enough to work with Amit can attest to his tenacity, passion, and creativity as a leader within MySpace and the larger industry.

Jim Benedetto, SVP of Engineering and Steve Pearman, SVP of Product Strategy will join Amit in this new chapter. Personally, I’m incredibly excited to see what this team creates together and wish them the best of luck as they transition from helping run a company to building a new one. Most importantly, Amit, Jim, and Steve depart as great friends of MySpace and of our senior executive team. They will remain on board for the next few weeks to ensure a smooth transition company-wide.

We recently celebrated the five year anniversary of the launch of MySpace—it’s a major milestone and everyone should be extremely proud of the global business that we have created in such a short amount of time. At its inception, MySpace was a product of the new social Web and in the last few years we’ve developed the most robust and diverse business in the marketplace.

MySpace is a social portal that empowers its global community to interact with people, content, and culture by giving individuals a personal, portable, and secure social experience. Originally, Yahoo gave consumers an organized way of navigating the Internet. Then, Google made searching the Internet extremely easy. Now, MySpace is making it simple for users to organize what’s important to them through a personal and social lens.

Despite what the market tells us, 2009 will be a big year for our business. This year we will mature our existing market leading advertising technologies such as MyAds and HyperTargeting, as well as continue to innovate new ways for companies big and small to best leverage the MySpace platform. We are effectively monetizing the stickiest sections of our site such as Music and Video by coupling the world’s richest content offering with creative ad programming online and off. What will always differentiate MySpace from others in the industry is our commitment to balancing revenue and relevancy.

On the product side, this past year was full of innovation including a site-wide global redesign, the impressive growth of our mobile initiatives, and the beginnings of our Open Platform product suite including MySpaceID. We’re at the tip of the iceberg with the Open Platform and in the coming year we expect major new launches including payments and virtual goods. Also in 2009, MySpace Music will deliver the next round of product development such its international rollout, and new functionality including charts, ticketing, and merchandise. Most important, we will remain committed to executing on our product vision in a manner that engages our users in the process and considers their feedback every step of the way.

Tom and I want to reiterate how passionate we are about MySpace—we love the people, the product, and we believe in the future of the company. MySpace has a dedicated team of senior executives and I’d like to take the opportunity to spotlight some of these individuals. I encourage everyone to get to know our executive team as they are an enormously capable group of professionals from successful media and Internet powerhouses such as eBay, Yahoo!, MTV, and Symantec that will lead our company into its next phase.

MySpace Executive Team:

· Tom Anderson—President and Co-Founder

· Aber Whitcomb—Chief Technology Officer

· Travis Katz—GM and SVP of MySpace International

· Courtney Holt—President of MySpace Music

· Jeff Berman—President of Sales and Marketing

· Lin Cherry—General Counsel

· Tom Andrus—SVP of Product

· Manu Thapar—SVP of Engineering Operations

· Allen Hurff—SVP of Engineering

· Tish Whitcraft—SVP of Customer Care

· Jason Oberfest—SVP of Business Development

· Angela Courtin—SVP of Marketing

· Abe Thomas—VP of Online Marketing

· Dani Dudeck—VP of Global Corporate Communications

In a tough economy, we’re continuing to prove to the industry that we’re a serious business defining a new social portal category for a Web that’s more personal, portable, and collaborative than ever before. Thanks everyone for a record breaking year 2008—the coming year will be even more important for the company and our 130 million global users worldwide.