Kara Swisher

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MySpace Musical Chairs: Jason Hirschhorn Also In as Chief Product Officer

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MySpace has officially announced the appointment of entrepreneur and former AOL exec Mike Jones as COO, as BoomTown reported earlier today.

But the social-networking site also named former Sling Media top exec Jason Hirschhorn as chief product officer in what has become a series of senior management moves at MySpace.

The paidContent Web site first reported on the Hirschhorn appointment earlier this morning.

Besides Sling, which he recently left in a mass departure of top execs, Hirschhorn was also the top digital exec at MTV Networks and was part of the team at Viacom (VIA) that unsuccessfully tried to buy MySpace many years ago.

Both Hirschhorn and Jones, who are already based in Los Angeles, will report to newly named CEO Owen Van Natta, the former COO of Facebook, who replaced MySpace co-founder and CEO Chris DeWolfe last week.

Recently installed News Corp. (NWS) digital head Jon Miller has put in place a trio of well-known Internet execs at the top of MySpace, which has seen its buzz and momentum wane in the face of the huge growth at Facebook.

MySpace’s motto is “A Place for Friends.” But it might very well now be: A place for wandering digital execs.

And expect more top execs to wander away from MySpace too. Once the trio get their bearings, many sources indicate that News Corp., the owner of MySpace, has given Van Natta and his key execs free rein to remake the unit.

There is a lot to fix at the entertainment-, music- and media-heavy site, from a renegotiation with Google (GOOG) over its advertising search deal to goosing traffic to innovating its look and feel.

In addition, MySpace is likely to forge closer tech ties with Silicon Valley, where Facebook is based.

News Corp. already noted that it was in talks with MySpace co-founder and President Tom Anderson about a new role in the company. Also likely to get a major look-see are top execs like sales head Jeff Berman and CTO Aber Whitcomb, as well as a number of others.

To begin, though, the trio will meet the staff of MySpace, more than 1,000 people, in an all-hands event to be held outside of its building in Beverly Hills, Calif., at about 3:30 p.m. today.

Sources tell me there is no space big enough at the HQ to accommodate them, so the courtyard of the building will be used.

BoomTown is in Los Angeles today, by coincidence, but will not be crashing the event, so send interesting tidbits my way.

Here is the full release:

Los Angeles, CA, April 27, 2009–News Corporation today announced an expansion of MySpace’s management team with two key new hires. Michael Jones has been named Chief Operating Officer and Jason Hirschhorn has been named Chief Product Officer, effective immediately. Mr. Jones and Mr. Hirschhorn will be based in Los Angeles and report to MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta.

Jones has founded and operated several online businesses, including Userplane, a leading provider of tools for online communities such as MySpace. Userplane was acquired in 2006 by AOL, where Jones subsequently served as a senior vice president and focused on social media monetization and also pioneered the distribution of widgets and other technology to Web publishers. Most recently, he was the founder and CEO of Tsavo Media, an online content and search network developing next-generation publishing platforms and technology services.

Hirschhorn has led both start-up and established online businesses. Most recently, he was president of Sling Media, Inc.’s Entertainment Group, which created consumer-driven applications and services for the Slingbox device. Previously, he was chief digital officer at MTV Networks, where he oversaw the company’s digital media businesses, products and strategies. Hirschhorn joined MTV Networks following the acquisition of his company, Mischief New Media, which provided interactive services to the entertainment industry.

“Michael’s operational insight and knowledge of the social media market will prove to be a valuable asset as we set out to evolve the MySpace product offering,” said Jon Miller, chief digital officer, News Corporation. “From a product perspective, there’s no better choice than Jason, who is highly regarded as an incredibly talented innovator, media executive and leader, all qualities I know will greatly benefit our team and our users.”

“We were attracted to Michael’s unique background in building and operating successful businesses that fall directly in our sweet spot, and I look forward to leveraging his skill set as we further refine and shape the MySpace vision,” said Mr. Van Natta. “Jason’s reputation for creating compelling consumer experiences that leverage the intersection of technology, design and media is unmatched and we’re excited to have him join us.”

“I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to build upon the successes of the company’s founders and am eager to work with Owen and Jon and the rest of the incredible management team at MySpace as we enter this exciting new phase in the company’s already revered history,” said Mr. Jones. Mr. Hirschhorn continued, “MySpace is one of the most alluring innovations of our time and I am honored to collaborate with Tom Anderson and the rest of the MySpace team to take what is already a stellar product into its next evolution.”

(New Corp. also owns Dow Jones, which owns this Web site.)


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