Print This Post

MySpace Looks to Clarify Identity with Help of New Hires

If there is any one question essential to a corporate turn-around it’s: “who are we?”  If a company’s management can’t answer that, there’s no place to go. A company without a clear identity, a place with only a muddled mission or an abstract sense of direction, is a company with no chance to get back on course.

At MySpace, where things are in dire need of refreshment, new chief Owen Van Natta is asking exactly that question, and he’s bringing in more new staff to help sort it out.

Confirmed, the company’s SVP of Product, Tom Andrus, and SVP of International, Travis Katz, will both be departing to “explore other opportunities.”  

Filling the design void, the company has hired Amazon alum Katie Geminder as SVP of User Experience and Design.   Also working to upgrade the user experience will be fellow new hire, Mike Macadaan, as VP of Product.  (Macadaan formerly worked with new MySpace COO Mike Jones. )  Geminder and Macadaan, along with chief product officer Jason Hirschhorn, will be hard at work trying to create a more unified experience.

In an internal memo sourced by Tech Crunch Van Natta introduced them saying, in part, “MySpace should feel like one platform – not 15 sites loosely stitched together. We consider our diverse content offering a strength but too many logos and disorganized verticals makes the site difficult to navigate and creates confusion about our brand identity. Our users don’t know if we’re a social portal, a music site, or an entertainment hub.”

In the coming months, one of the site’s core challenges will be making sure users know what they’re engaging with.

To fill the vacancy at the International post, MySpace will promote Rebekah Horne, formerly GM of Europe and Australia, to take over as SVP of International.

The full text of the Van Natta’s internal memo (via Tech Crunch) follows:

From: Owen Van Natta
Sent: Tuesday, July 14, 2009
To: FIM MySpace All
Subject: Organizational Update

Hi everyone,

As we continue to evolve our organization there are some changes I’d like to update everyone on.

After nearly two years of managing MySpace’s product organization, SVP of Product Tom Andrus has decided to explore other opportunities. During his tenure at MySpace, Tom brought a level of professionalism to the product organization and established a true discipline of product management. He helped create a dynamic, top notch team of product talent responsible for managing one of the biggest platforms on the planet. I personally appreciate all the support that Tom has given the new management team and look forward to welcoming new talent to compliment the tremendous group we currently have in place. We expect to see incredible things from Tom and wish him the best in his future plans.

After more than three years running MySpace’s international business, MD and SVP of International Travis Katz has decided to leave the company to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities. Travis joined News Corp in 2004 and was one of the principal authors of the company’s digital strategy, which led to the creation of Fox Interactive Media and the acquisitions of MySpace and IGN among other sites. In February, 2006, Travis joined MySpace to lead the company’s international expansion, and under his leadership, MySpace grew its international user base from 12 million to more than 60 million active users. Travis leaves as a friend to MySpace and to the executive team – we wish him and his family the best of luck in future endeavors. Travis will remain with the company through the end of August to help with the transition.

International will continue to be a major priority for MySpace going forward and I’m proud to announce that Rebekah Horne – formerly our GM of Europe and Australia – will be taking over as MD and SVP of International. During her tenure at MySpace, Rebekah has done an incredible job inspiring and leading teams across Europe and the rest of the world. Rebekah spent last week in LA working with us on strategic planning and this week I plan to join her in London to meet with our leadership team in Europe. Please join me in congratulating Rebekah on her new role.

As I’ve said before, simplifying and unifying our site is fundamental to our success going forward. MySpace should feel like one platform – not 15 sites loosely stitched together. We consider our diverse content offering a strength but t oo many logos and disorganized verticals makes the site difficult to navigate and creates confusion about our brand identity. Our users don’t know if we’re a social portal, a music site, or an entertainment hub. In the last week, we’ve made some small but meaningful site changes that will lay the groundwork to provide more clarity on our brand and business. Unifying MySpace is critical to how we define ourselves to the world. We’re beginning to start this process and I’d like to introduce two major hires to the product organization.

Please join me in welcoming Katie Geminder, our new SVP of User Experience and Design. Katie began her career designing user experiences at Amazon, where she led large cross-functional and customer experience initiatives including the Kitchen Store,, and the Amazon Services e-Commerce platform. Since then she has worked for top online and technology companies including Apple and Facebook. For Katie, great user experience and design lives at the convergence of product, engineering, and design. A great user experience is dependent on two things, a clear and concise vision augmented by user feedback and the collaboration of business, product, technology, and engineering teams.

Improving our product interface is a major component of creating an exceptional user experience. With that, I’d like to welcome Mike Macadaan as our new VP of Product. Prior to joining MySpace, Mike served as Vice President of User Experience at the start-up publishing network Tsavo Media. Mike is a fixture in the start-up scene as the founder of Twiistup, an industry standard startup showcase. At AOL, Mike led the team responsible for creating Magnet, the company’s groundbreaking first effort at personalization and behavioral targeting, which gave AOL an in-depth look at the needs of their users. At MySpace Mike’s job is to push, inspire, and lead the product organization. He’ll be responsible for developing next gen experiences that will reset the growth for MySpace.

Finally, we’ve spent the last few weeks designing a framework that provides tremendous clarity to the way in which our product and technology teams will be working together moving forward. Next week, Jason and Mike are going to walk employees through the new team structure of our technology and product group. I appreciate the input from everyone across the company that has helped develop this architecture.


Related Articles from Metue
MySpace Looks for Agility and Less “Bloat”
More Shakeups at MySpace
News Corp Starts Mixing Up MySpace: Founder Out
Jon Miller Takes On News Corp Role (External)
Shuffling Executives: News Corp Makes More Changes
Chernin Out at News Corp – Full Details and Departure Memos


Comments are closed.