MySpace 'set to cut up to 50% of staff'

MySpace is preparing to cut as much as 50% of its 1 100 staff by the middle of the month, according to reports, as the flagging social network struggles with falling revenues and traffic.

Its management is said to be planning a slate of dramatic cost-cutting measures to meet targets demanded by parent company News Corporation.

MySpace has been overshadowed by the exponential rise of Facebook, as well as the departure of several key executives and developer talent. The company has already cut jobs, reducing staff by 30% last summer.

News Corp has also charged Jack Kennedy, executive vice-president of operations, with exploring a sale of MySpace by the middle of the year, according to industry blog AllThingsD.

The company is reportedly talking to various investment and venture capital firms, though games firm Zynga has also been mooted as a potential buyer, according to some reports. Zynga makes popular social networking games FarmVille and CityVille.

News Corp’s chief operating officer, Chase Carey, signalled the beginning of the end for MySpace during an earnings call in October when he said the site’s losses were “not acceptable or sustainable”.

He also told the Reuters Global Media Summit in November: “There are opportunities here to do 20 things, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to do any of the 20.
If there’s something there that makes sense you ought to think about it.”

MySpace’s travails continue despite an extensive overhaul rolled out in the UK in October last year, with more discreet advertising, new sharing and customisation options and even Facebook integration.

The company declined to comment on the latest reports of impending job cuts.

Data from comScore shows global MySpace unique user numbers falling 26,4% from 110,8-million in September 2009 to 81,5-million by November 2010. In Europe, traffic fell from 5,1-million to 2,3-million unique users over the same period. -

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