MySpace, the social network owned by News Corp.'s Fox Interactive Media, announced Wednesday that it has hired five new members for its executive team--three senior vice presidents and two vice president--in fields ranging from engineering to customer service. They're coming from a mixed background of media and tech.
Manu Thapar, former vice president of engineering at Yahoo, has been hired as MySpace's senior vice president of engineering, a role that involves architecture and security management as well as the creation of an offshore development team. Another Yahoo veteran, Tish Whitcraft, has joined MySpace as senior vice president of customer care and will oversee the construction of a "self-help" tool for MySpace users.
On the media side, Angela Courtin has been hired as MySpace's senior vice president of marketing, entertainment, and content. She comes from MTV Networks, where she was vice president of integrated marketing. Jason Oberfest, a former biz-dev guru at Los Angeles Times Interactive, has been hired as vice president of business development to work in both deal making and developer relations. And Abe Thomas, a former employee of eBay and its PayPal subsidiary, has been hired as vice president of online marketing.
But the revolving doors at MySpace are moving fast. TechCrunch reported Tuesday that the company was looking to lay off as much as 5 percent of its workforce, which chief operating officer Amit Kapur confirmed to the blog later in the day. But the exec classified the move as "performance driven," meaning that fired employees would be replaced and that MySpace was actually looking to hire as many as 300 new employees.
The hiring announcement comes so close on the heels of the layoff reports that conspiracy theorists might speculate MySpace put out a release about fairly recent executive picks to temper any bad press. But when asked, a MySpace representative classified the hires as "very recent...or are locked and loaded to start soon," so it's more likely that personnel changes just happened to fall into the rumor mill at an opportune time.