Today announcements of sharp people cuts at MySpace hit and hit hard. This is a painful step, and my sympathies go out to any employee impacted. I take no pleasure or glee in poking fun at this. I’m sure that in the coming days, plenty of press will focus on more salacious elements of the moves, the pain inside MySpace, whether offices are remaining open, etc. The story of growing so quickly, getting bought by News Corporation, followed by the rapid flattening of growth–all within the span of a few years–is just too much of a story to pass up for many.
That’s not my focus. Instead, I’d like to write and applaud Owen Van Natta and his exec team for moving quickly to cut down while they try to figure out what to do. In a post I wrote upon the announcement of Mr. Van Natta’s appointment to the role, I suggested that I’d be watching for 3 things–(1) a focus on scenarios, (2) execution, and (3) any cultural phenomenon starting in MySpace versus the other tools (Twit, FBK, etc.). Given that it’s been less than one month, I’d say that taking the step of cutting back this fast and this hard is an example of execution. It’s a painful sign, but a good one. I’d not expected such decisiveness here to be honest.
I think this is a good move, not just because it helps signal an execution focus. I think it also helps the team that remains get hunkered down to figure out what the heck they’re actually going to go do. The features and scenarios that might help them get ahead are not ones that should take tons of people. Instead, they need a tight focus with highly motivated superstars–hard to do that when you’ve got wave after wave of layoffs. Better to just get the cut done big and fast. So kudos to the leaders of MySpace for having the courage to get after this fast.
MySpace still has miles to go before it sleeps. But I’d say that this is on the whole a good sign, and I’ll be interested to see what’s next with them.