MySpace‘s plan for rejuvenation is starting to come together. Today, it’s bringing on serial entrepreneurs from the tech industry, who can potentially figure out how to improve its product. Mike Jones is its new chief operating officer and Jason Hirschhorn is its new chief product officer. They’ll be reporting to former Facebook executive and Project Playlist chief executive Owen Van Natta, who became MySpace’s chief executive in a quick management change-up last week. All of these moves are apparently at the instigation of Jon Miller, the new digital media head at News Corp, which owns MySpace.
Jones (pictured above, and no, not that Mike Jones) is currently chief executive at content recommendation company Tsavo Media, after having sold chat services company Userplane to AOL for reportedly up to $40 million in 2006. Hirschorn (below) was an executive at MTV Networks and was most recently at Sling Media. Sling sold to EchoStar in 2007 for $380 million, and Hirschorn left it this past January.
Both have extensive experience in the media industry, and importantly, coming up with new products that people use. That’s what MySpace needs, although it’s hardly starting from scratch. It has a popular developer platform, with some companies making millions on it through things like virtual goods. Its new MySpaceID service promises to let other sites get better access to its user data and media content. Still, its traffic has remained flat, and it seems to have lost the attention of many older users.
How about tech reactions to these two hires? MySpace hasn’t distinguished itself as a product-driven company until recently. I heard one Facebook manager say this earlier today: “MySpace hired my buddy Mike Jones, this is crazy.” Mike Jones is well-regarded in tech circles, a serial entrepreneur in Silicon Valley told me.
However, Van Natta seems to buy into MySpace’s focus on media, including its music site and its popular video player. “He views Facebook more as a communications channel and MySpace as a destination, where people come to entertain themselves by discovering music and meeting new people,” sources told the Wall Street Journal.
In terms of that focus, I’m interested to see what MySpace could be that it isn’t already — at least in the U.S., where it’s most popular. Look for more on that front. Supposedly there’s an all-hands meeting for its 1,000-some employees at its Beverly Hills headquarters today, where more plans will be discussed.