Kara Swisher

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As BoomTown Said: Partovi Brothers Finally Leave MySpace (Here Are the Internal Memos)

Well-known tech entrepreneurs and twin brothers Ali and Hadi Partovi (pictured here, right to left) are leaving MySpace, in a high-profile departure for the struggling social networking company.

Internal memos were sent around to staff this afternoon about the executive change, said sources, which you can see below.

“Hey everybody, it’s been super tough staying quiet about this news at the request of our execs,” said Hadi Partovi, in an internal memo obtained by BoomTown. “I know some of you are very surprised about this, and I want to apologize for not having had the option to brief you personally in advance.”

Hadi was SVP of Technology at the News Corp. (NWS) unit, while Ali was SVP of Business Development. Hadi will leave MySpace entirely, while Ali will have a special adviser role, said the memo from MySpace Co-President Michael Jones.

In a blog post in March titled, “MySpace Musical Chairs: Will the Partovis Stay or Will They Go Now?,” I wrote:

“In all likelihood, said sources, the Partovis will remain at MySpace for the next several months, although they are likely to move eventually to more senior advisory or special-project roles there in order to pursue longtime outside investing and entrepreneurial interests.”

Now that has come to pass.

The fate of the well-known tech wunderkinds has been one of the more interesting guessing games of late at MySpace.

MySpace managers have been keenly interested in avoiding the appearance that the company is in the grip of a talent drain, especially related to such well-known innovators.

The Partovis arrived in the midst of turbulent change at MySpace last August, just after its original CEO and co-founder, Chris DeWolfe, was suddenly tossed out and replaced by CEO Owen Van Natta, as well as COO Jones and Chief Product Officer Jason Hirschhorn.

As part of its new strategy to become an entertainment hub, the Beverly Hills, Calif.-based MySpace bought the Partovis’ social music start-up, iLike, in a deal engineered by Van Natta.

After it closed, Hadi was mostly working in MySpace’s Seattle office, and Ali was mostly based in San Francisco.

(See this funny welcome video Ali Partovi did at the time.)

But Van Natta suddenly got the boot in January after clashing with News Corp. digital chief Jon Miller, as well as Hirschhorn and Jones, sending MySpace into yet another storm.

Hirschhorn and Jones were then named co-presidents.

While several sources said the Partovis are not unhappy with the pair or with the new MySpace mediacentric strategy, the brothers sold their company with the idea of working with Van Natta.

“That firing reset things,” said one source close to the situation in March.

Nonetheless, there was some progress with iLike, including integration of MySpace Music with Google (GOOG) and a MySpace Events offering.

In addition, the pair have wide-ranging interests outside the company, including an active investment portfolio in such start-ups as Facebook, Dropbox, Opower, BlueKai and Flixster.

They have already scored big with investments in Tellme, which was sold to Microsoft (MSFT); Zappos, which was acquired by Amazon (AMZN); and IronPort, now owned by Cisco (CSCO).

And though iLike was not the success they had hoped for, their entrepreneurial record is strong. Ali Partovi sold LinkExchange to Microsoft, and Hadi Partovi, who also worked at Microsoft, co-founded Tellme.

Now, it seems, the Partovis are moving on to the next challenge.

Here are the internal memos from Hadi Partovi to iLike staff and from MySpace’s Jones:

From: Hadi Partovi
Date: Tue, Apr 20, 2010 at 5:15 PM
Subject: Fwd: Organizational Update (re Ali + Hadi)
To: staff
Cc: Ali Partovi

Hey everybody, it’s been super tough staying quiet about this news at the request of our execs. I know some of you are very surprised about this, and I want to apologize for not having had the option to brief you personally in advance.

I also want to call out looking backwards that we’ve all done a heck of a lot in just the last 6 months to help improve the MySpace business and to integrate iLike technology. Just a short list is below.

– iLike integrated MySpace Music into Google search (iLike provided the team, technology, and Google deal)
– iLike team+technology helped implement MySpace Events, launched with multi-million-dollar sponsorship commitments
– all iLike.com traffic has been merged into MySpace’s overall Comscore metrics
– iLike’s products have been featured in a TV ad by Apple, and will be in an upcoming TV ad by another major tech company
– iLike’s promotional engine has been used multiple times in coordination with MSM to promote new albums or new artists
– MSM videos have been integrated into iLike.com and iLike on Facebook
– iLike’s artist-stats are integrated into the MySpace artist dashboard
– iLike.com drives search engine traffic to MySpace artist pages
– iLike team implemented the imeem traffic redirection and data backend of imeem playlist integration
– iLike team provided backend metadata + recommendation engine for MySpace music search and song-similarities

Most importantly, thanks to our work, MySpace is the #1 provider of music on Facebook, music on Google, and Concerts on iPhone. Regardless of any challenges that MySpace needs to overcome, that is a great legacy that I know we’re all proud of.

I’m personally very sad that I won’t be working with any of you–the amazing team we built at iLike is perhaps our greatest accomplishment.

I’ll send an email to the Seattle folks to organize a proper going-away celebration :)


From: Mike Jones
Date: Tue, Apr 20, 2010 at 4:52 PM
Subject: Organizational Update
Cc: Jason Hirschhorn

Hi everyone,

Effective on Friday, MySpace SVP of Technology Hadi Partovi is leaving to pursue other opportunities. In addition to continuing his work as an advisor and angel investor to various startups, he will be following his passion for education by working directly with technology focused non-profits. Hadi leaves as a valued friend to the company, and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.

Ali Partovi will be stepping down as SVP of Business Development, but will continue working with MySpace as a strategic advisor working on special projects. He will also be taking time to invest in and advise startups.

Hadi and Ali were instrumental in integrating iLike’s best in class technology into the MySpace brand. Last week’s successful Events launch was a direct result of that collaboration. Other noteworthy product integrations include last year’s Google Music Search integration and the Local Concerts App, which is currently the most downloaded concerts app for the iPhone and was featured in one of Apple’s latest iPhone TV spots.

Please join us in thanking Ali and Hadi for their contributions to MySpace.

-Jason & Mike

(Full disclosure: News Corp. owns Dow Jones, which owns this site.)

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— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus