News Corp.-owned MySpace on Tuesday laid off 420 employees, about 30% of its workforce.
The LA Times’ Company Town blog first signaled this was going to happen on Friday, June 5, noting layoffs also were expected at Fox Interactive Media, of which MySpace is a part.
There have been significant changes at the top of both FIM and MySpace. Former AOL CEO Jon Miller was hired to head FIM at the end of March; Miller quickly replaced MySpace CEO and Founder Chris Wolfe with former Facebook CEO Owen Van Natta. Van Natta then went on to fire one-third of the people that worked for the service, but that should surprise no one considering MySpace’s dwindling relevance. This month, Facebook matched MySpace in number of monthly unique visitors for the first time.
Silicon Alley Insider posted Van Natta’s eerily cheery memo about the layoffs here. He mentions that the company needs to return to its roots when it was innovative and entrepreneurial. I have to agree. I’ve written about this over at Beyond the Box, but I immediately found Facebook so much easier and quicker to use than MySpace. Facebook also is far more inclusive. On MySpace, you create your own little island and live there and a few people come and visit occasionally. On Facebook, you live smack in the middle of a big city and you can jump in and really engage or just watch all the people walk by. You can spend the entire day there, or you can just pop in, wave hello, and pop back out again. For my money, Facebook is the far more useful social networking tool. (As a side note, I’ve finally gotten a good handle on the value of Twitter, but it’s subtly different than Facebook. I find I use the two similar services for different things.)
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported that FIM also is laying off people, but that division is doing it much more quietly. There’s also a possibility that FIM will go away entirely, according to the Post.