Nothing has been announced, but the Web is filling up with heavy speculation that Chris DeWolfe and possibly Tom Anderson, founders of the social networking site, could be out the door - soon. Both their contracts are set to expire this fall. The moves would be made by Jonathan Miller, who was recently named by Rupert Murdoch to be head of News Corp.'s digital operations. Sources are telling Peter Kafka at All Things Digital that former Facebook COO Owen Van Natta, who is currently CEO of music start-up Project Playlist, is likely to replace DeWolfe.
Sources tell me Miller hadn't been planning on getting rid of DeWolfe in the near future and that until yesterday, he was still evaluating his options. News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch had once treated DeWolfe as a favorite and gave him significant autonomy at MySpace. But Murdoch, who brought Miller on earlier this month, has been leaning toward a change as MySpace's traffic has stagnated and its buzz and momentum have moved to Facebook.
Still, Murdoch had left the decision about the site's leadership to Miller, his new hire, sources said. One possibility: Elevating DeWolfe to a nonexecutive advisory position. Those options narrowed last night, once TechCrunch ran a story claiming that News Corp. had hired a headhunting firm to "scour for possible replacements" for DeWolfe. News Corp. hadn't actually hired a headhunter, I'm told by multiple sources. But I'm also told the report was enough to spook DeWolfe into calling Miller to ask what his plans were. That conversation led to today's negotiations, which will likely lead to his stepping down as CEO, although he may remain affiliated with MySpace in some capacity.
MySpace is based in Bev Hills, part of News Corp's digital operations.