An anonymous MySpace employee says company executives tricked workers into sweatshop-ish overwork to save the foundering social network, only to turn around and lay half of them off. The executives' supposed real motivation: Getting rich in a MySpace spinoff.

Emotions are running high now that MySpace has officially begun the process of laying off around 500 people, or more than 45 percent of its workforce. So the tipster who emailed a long, bitter "j'accuse"-style letter to TechCrunch is likely inclined to see the worst in his superiors, who he says "knowingly *used* their employees, working them hard, making them give up time with their friends and families, knowing all along that no matter how hard they worked, and how successful their efforts, many of them would be rewarded with layoffs."

Among the hard work he references is a 48-hour hackathon (discussed in the comments), 20-hour days, and a secret project called Burn, which is purportedly intended to be the platform for MySpace going independent. Highlights:

As recently as Nov 18th, Mike Jones, the now CEO of Myspace, sat in front of the entire company, thanking them for their extraordinary efforts... He and his executive team had just somehow driven hundreds of people to work hard for months, giving 20 hour days, even 48 hour sleepless stints... motivating the team with statements like "do you believe in this company or not?", "either you're in or not", and "look at what we can do when we do it together".

.... At the same time, the Myspace execs... were all being rewarded with new deals (including Jones becoming CEO), including raises and promotions... The executive team was busy plotting secret back-room deals to prevent a sale of Myspace by News Corp and to instead spin out Myspace into their control (likely taking most of the equity and giving themselves more personal gain)...

After the dust settles, the people who were in charge and responsible for the continued failure will still be in charge, with new titles and raises, clearly intent on taking as much personal value as they can from the company before it dies completely at their hands. And the hard working, loyal employees that worked their butts off, took time away from their families to *actually* try to turn the company around by building and launching the new Myspace, will be looking for jobs.

If nothing else, this ex-MySpace employee's letter will serve as a reminder to anyone contemplating an insane work commitment that voluntary overtime is just that: Voluntary. If you're not getting paid, you should make sure there's something in it for you other than a promise.

[TechCrunch, image: StockLite/Shutterstock]