MySpace confirms layoffs, up to 30 percent cut

myspace-a-place-for-friendsLast week, sources told TechCrunch that up to 25 percent of MySpace‘s staff could be laid off. The News Corp.-owned social network has basically confirmed the news today, with new chief executive Owen Van Natta taking a dig at past management in the company press release: ” Simply put, our staffing levels were bloated and hindered our ability to be an efficient and nimble team-oriented company.”

The cuts will come across the company’s US divisions, and bring down total head count down 30 percent to 1,000 people. That’s still, for what it’s worth, more than rival Facebook’s 900-some employees. There are also corresponding cuts at MySpace parent devision Fox Media Interactive although fewer specifics are available.

The changes come as MySpace has seen its traffic stagnate, with some 70 million monthly active U.S. users (its largest demographic) as of May, according to comScore. In past months, it has had more like 72 million US users. Facebook has, at least in comScore’s reckoning, finally passed MySpace in this country (it passed MySpace in worldwide numbers last year, on the way to its self-reported 200 million monthly unique visitors worldwide).

Here’s the press release:

LOS ANGELES—June 16, 2009—As part of a plan to restructure itself into a more innovative, efficient, and entrepreneurial business, MySpace announced today that it will reduce its staff by nearly 30%.  This restructuring plan crosses all U.S. divisions of the company and lowers the total number of domestic staff at MySpace to 1,000 employees.

“Simply put, our staffing levels were bloated and hindered our ability to be an efficient and nimble team-oriented company,” said MySpace Chief Executive Officer Owen Van Natta. “I understand that these changes are painful for many. They are also necessary for the long-term health and culture of MySpace.  Our intent is to return to an environment of innovation that is centered on our user and our product.”

“MySpace grew too big considering the realities of today’s marketplace,” said Jonathan Miller, News Corporation’s CEO of Digital Media and Chief Digital Officer. “I believe this restructuring will help MySpace operate much more effectively both structurally and financially moving forward. I am confident in MySpace’s next phase under the leadership of Owen and his team.”