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2 top MySpace execs get big paydays

October 18, 2007|Joseph Menn | Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — Top MySpace executives Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson have struck rich deals to continue working at the company, which was bought by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. in 2005.

DeWolfe and Anderson each will get about $15 million to stay for two years, although that figure is contingent on the unit's performance, according to people familiar with the arrangement.

The contract talks have been a subject of wide speculation and debate within News Corp., reflecting the tensions inherent in trying to keep high-powered Web executives within an old-media company. Internet entrepreneurs operating on their own can turn into billionaires with initial public stock offerings or dramatic stock-price increases.

The MySpace leaders' annual rate of $7.5 million comes in just under the $8.1 million in base salary paid last fiscal year to Chief Executive Murdoch and President Peter Chernin and is well above the amounts given to other longtime executives. Including bonuses, stock grants and other compensation, Murdoch and Chernin each received more than $30 million.

MySpace Chief Executive DeWolfe and President Anderson didn't get everything they wanted, people within News Corp. said on condition that they not be named. The duo had sought as much as $50 million each over the two years, plus expanded responsibilities and direct reporting to Murdoch.

Instead, they will generally keep their existing roles and continue to answer to Peter Levinsohn, who heads News Corp.'s Fox Interactive Media division. That division and MySpace are based in a Beverly Hills building.

MySpace and News Corp. spokeswomen declined to comment.

News Corp.'s 2005 purchase of MySpace's parent firm, Intermix Media Inc., for $580 million has been hailed as an epic bargain in retrospect by investors and rival companies.

Paced by MySpace, Fox Interactive turned a profit of $10 million last fiscal year on revenue of $550 million. Murdoch has said he expects profit of at least $200 million in the current year.

joseph.menn@latimes.com

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