June 18, 2010 1:09 am

MySpace president quits 5 months after reshuffle

Jason Hirschhorn, co-president of News Corp-owned MySpace, is leaving the social networking company just five months after a reorganisation forced out the previous chief executive.

Mike Jones, currently the other co-president of MySpace, will run the unit. MySpace is not expected to bring in additional management.

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The latest executive shuffling comes as MySpace, once a cultural touchstone that made internet social networks a household name, has fallen far behind rival Facebook.

The setback mirrors a string of other failed attempts by traditional media companies to integrate internet acquisitions.

The departure also comes ahead of a deadline in two weeks when MySpace’s lucrative internet search deal with Google expires. News Corp secured a landmark deal in 2007 to be paid $900m to use Google’s search and advertising services.

Google may be paying $100m less on the original contract as the deal was contingent on meeting minimum traffic requirements, which had fallen short, News Corp executives said late last year. It is not immediately clear if it would be able to replace the deal or with whom.

Mr Hirschhorn, who was named co-president following the departure of Owen Van Natta, formerly MySpace’s top executive, will return to New York, where he is expected to return to entrepreneurial pursuits.

“We fully respect Jason’s decision to leave and his personal desire to return to New York,” said Jonathan Miller, chief digital officer of News Corp.

“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.”

Mr Miller recruited Mr Hirschhorn from Sling Media, a start-up that let television viewers watch videos on wireless mobile devices. EchoStar Communications purchased Sling in 2007.

MySpace, once the largest global internet social network, is now a distant second behind Facebook. MySpace attracted 111m unique visitors in April, while Facebook attracted 519m, according to comScore, an internet audience tracking company.

In recent months, the company has raced to restructure the business, and has said it planned to rely on online music, games and videos.

Unconfirmed speculation that News Corp was considering putting MySpace up for sale was quickly damped down by executives earlier this year.

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