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Myspace Sacks Third of Employees As Facebook Overtakes It In The US

Myspace, the pioneer social networking website owned by News Corporation, has shed 420 employees, bringing its total head count to around 1000 as it emerged that Facebook has overtaken the former poster child of Web 2.0 in the US.

2009 has been a pretty bad year for the web 2.0 company. It lost both Jay Stevens and Chris DeWolfe, its two co-founders, in the last few month and is likely to lose its leadership in the US to Facebook, a huge blow to its attempt to reduce the gap between with FB.

Latest figures by Comscore show that Facebook had 70.278 million unique US visitors compared to 70.255 million for Myspace. Globally, Facebook is around two and a half times bigger than Myspace (123.2 million unique visitors vs 307.1 million for the month of May 2009 alone).

Even with the latest cuts, Myspace still have around 300 more employees than Facebook prompting Jonathan Miller, CEO of Digital Media at News Corp., to say that “MySpace grew too big considering the realities of today’s marketplace.”

But it was Owen Van Natta, Myspace's new CEO and former CFO at Facebook, that apparently signed the decision to pink-slip 30 percent of Myspace employees. He said in a statement that "Simply put, our staffing levels were bloated and hindered our ability to be an efficient and nimble team-oriented company".

To put in figures, the average number of unique visitors per employee at Facebook is 3.5 times bigger than at Myspace which means that there could be further cuts as Facebook's lead on Myspace increases, especially given that Facebook is growing faster in the UK than Myspace and Bebo combined.

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Myspace was purchased by Murdoch's News Corporation in what was considered at the time to be a master coup. For $580million, the wise man grabbed a website that managed to pay for itself with a single advertising deal with Google - worth $900 million. But times have changed and according to the Guardian, Myspace offices are likely to close outside the US.

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Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.