Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

MySpace Welcomes Media Link (and Wenda Millard!): The Complete Internal Memo

As Kara Swisher just reported, News Corp.’s (NWS) MySpace has hired media consulting firm Media Link, along with MediaLink President and Yahoo (YHOO) veteran Wenda Harris Millard, to overhaul the social network’s sales group.

Here’s the complete internal memo from CEO Owen Van Natta, which describes Millard’s position as head of the ad sales group as an “interim” one and announces that former sales boss Jeff Berman is out. (Van Natta’s official statement for public consumption is here.)

Hi everyone,

I want to share some thoughts about our advertising product strategy and give you an update on the structure of our sales organization.

In the last three months we’ve focused our attention on restructuring the business, refocusing the MySpace user experience, and hiring some talented people particularly in the technology and product organization. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made in these areas and now want to focus on ensuring we have the best advertising product, sales strategy, and team in the market.

MySpace has always been a leader in the social media advertising space. Maintaining our leadership position requires that we foster the perfect balance between content and commerce. With this in mind, I’m pleased to announce that we are bringing a new partner into our global organization. Please join me in welcoming to the MySpace team, Media Link – a top media representation and strategic advisory firm founded by Michael Kassan and whose clients have included Microsoft, AT&T, Unilever, Home Depot, and Colgate-Palmolive. Michael is an internationally recognized leader operating at the intersection of the media, advertising, and entertainment industries. He’s the founder and managing principal of Media Link and acts as an advisor to many of the Fortune 100’s best-of-breed global brands

Media Link will be focusing on two primary objectives. First, the firm will provide guidance as we reconfigure our ad products to meet the current needs of the marketplace.  As a key strategic advisor and partner, they’ll provide us with an external perspective on the larger advertising market as well as insight into what top clients (and those we’re looking to attract) are asking for.

Second, as part of this process on an interim basis the firm will help manage our day-to-day sales organization under the leadership of Wenda Harris Millard. Many of you know and have worked with Wenda in the past and for those who haven’t she’s truly an internet advertising pioneer. Her reputation on Madison Avenue is unmatched and after holding executive sales posts at Ziff Davis, Yahoo, and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia she recently joined Media Link as President.

After more than three years of managing a highly diverse set of responsibilities at MySpace including content and sales roles, Jeff Berman has decided to explore other opportunities. During his tenure at MySpace, Jeff brought leadership to our sales organization and built an incredible team with expertise across every advertising vertical. I appreciate all the support that Jeff has given the new management team and look forward to welcoming new sales talent to compliment the tremendous group we currently have in place. We wish Jeff the best in his future plans.

Within our sales team, we have a deep bench of talent responsible for managing one of the most dynamic advertising platforms on the Web. I’d to like recognize the sales team for their hard work and dedication in creating meaningful ad solutions for our roster of advertisers.

Our senior sales team (in alpha order) includes:
·         Chris Carlson – Regional Vice President of the Mid West
·         Angela Courtin – SVP Marketing, Entertainment, Content
·         Shari Friedman – Vice President of Entertainment Sales
·         Mitchell Kreuch – Regional Vice President of East Coast Sales
·         Abe Thomas – VP of Online Marketing
·         Valeh Vakili – SVP Sales Strategy and Operations
·         Sam Wick – SVP of Strategy for MySpace Music
·         Andy Wiedlin – Regional Vice President of West Coast Sales

I appreciate your dedication and focus on delivering for our advertising partners during the last few months. I hope you’re as excited as I am to take our sales organizations to the next level.

Full disclosure: News Corp., owner of MySpace, also owns Dow Jones, which owns this site.)

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik