Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Is There a Myspace Mafia, Too? Because Leaving Seems to Have Paid Off for Many Ex-Execs.

When the selling of Myspace winds down in the next week or so, it’ll probably attract a spate of comments about what a failure the whole social networking enterprise turned out to be.

And — especially when you recall what a Web phenom the social networking site was before it got blown out of the water by Facebook — it was.

That is, unless you think of the mob of former execs who have worked at the company over time, many of whom have moved on to some more golden opportunities after leaving the News Corp.-owned property.

That includes, most recently and notably, former sales head Michael Barrett, who is about to score big as CEO of AdMeld, which is reportedly in the process of selling to Google for $400 million.

Also a big winner: Former Myspace CEO Owen Van Natta, who was fired from that job in one of its many putsches and who quickly rebounded to a top job at online gaming powerhouse Zynga.

So, while it is one of the more overused memes of Silicon Valley, the “mafia” analogy — which has been applied to fertile entrepreneurial breeding grounds such as PayPal, before its acquisition by eBay — is useful when thinking about Myspace.

It is also a good thing to keep in mind about any tech company that goes off the rails: There might still be a silver lining, even if the start-up never sees the light of day again.

As proof, herein is a list I created after pinging a bunch of former Myspace folks:

Jason Oberfest: Former SVP of business development. Now, VP Ngmoco, which was sold to Japanese gaming giant DeNA for $400 million last year.

Dmitry Shapiro: Former CTO, Myspace Music. Now, at Facebook competitor Altly.

Adam Bain: While at Fox Interactive Media, he ran the ad platform for Myspace. Now, head of sales at Twitter.

Jeff Berman: Former president of sales and marketing. Now, GM of the NFL’s digital media unit.

Jason Hirschhorn: Former co-president and chief product officer. Now, on MGM board, angel investor, and there are rumors of him working on a curation start-up.

Amit Kapur: Former COO. Now, CEO, Gravity, an information filtering service start-up.

Chris DeWolfe: Co-founder and former CEO. Now, CEO, MindJolt, an online gaming roll-up.

Ross Levinsohn: Former president of FIM, he was integral to buying Myspace. Now, EVP of Americas unit, Yahoo.

Mike Lang: Former News Corp. strategy exec also involved in Myspace purchase. Now, CEO, Miramax.

Aber Whitcomb: Former CTO. Now CTO, MindJolt.

Jim Heckman: Former chief strategy officer of FIM. Now, CEO of 5to1, recently sold to Yahoo for $25 million.

Dani Dudeck: Former communications head. Now, PR head at Zynga.

Travis Katz: SVP of international. Now, CEO of Gogobot, a social travel start-up.

Richard Rosenblatt: Former CEO of Intermix Media and Chairman of Myspace, he sold it to News Corp. Now, CEO of Demand Media.

Angela Courtin: Former SVP of marketing. Now, EVP at Aegis Media.

These folks should be on the call list of whoever ends up buying Myspace. Last week, I wrote that an investor group, including Activision head Bobby Kotick, is now in the lead for the deal.

As an update, according to sources, Kotick has gotten clearance from Activision’s major shareholder Vivendi to do the Myspace transaction as a passive personal investment.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work