Still trying to shake off its past, MySpace lays off almost half of its staff

MySpace, the social network that defined social networking in the dawn of the 21st century, is undergoing another round of massive cutbacks which will terminate 47% of its employees, parent company News Corp announced Tuesday. The site has been trying to re-invent itself as a music and entertainment hub as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other social communication services pick away at its rapidly dwindling audience.

The last round of layoffs at MySpace that were this severe took place in 2009, when 30% of the staff was laid off to compensate for "the realities of today's marketplace."

Today, shielded somewhat by the headline-stealing Verizon iPhone 4 announcements, MySpace announced it would be laying off about 500 employees globally in a move "purely driven by issues related to our legacy business, and in no way reflect[s] the performance of the new product," MySpace CEO Mike Jones said.

Jones said the new design has actually prompted an uptick in new user profile creation (approximately 3.3 million since its launch), and significant activity in its entertainment "topic" pages.

As I took my annual drive across the country, I happened to catch a commercial for a radio call-in show where the host said of one of his guests: "Your sweater is so old, it's got a MySpace account!"

It is interesting, therefore, that Jones should refer to the "legacy" business in the negative while the site retains its now stigmatized name, perhaps the biggest legacy of all.

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