Think back, way back, to the month of March 2012. It was a happier, simpler time, when a new game called Draw Something was taking the world by storm and everyone wanted to get in on the action. Zynga, only a few months after its December IPO debut decided that, even though OMGPOP, Draw Something's developer, had never had a hit game before, that it would pay $180 million to buy the company.
Fast forward almost one year exactly, and things have not quite worked out as expected. Draw Something's numbers fell off quickly, the game was quite quickly forgotten about, and now the CEO of OMGPOP is reportedly ready to flee the company.
Former OMGPOP CEO Dan Porter, who became VP of general management at Zynga’s New York office after his company was purchased. He will be replaced by Zynga's VP of Mobile, Sean Ryan.
In response to the reports, Zynga COO David Ko has released the following statement to various media outlets:
"Developing and launching games is a team effort, and we’re proud of the great work the Zynga New York team has done with Draw Something 2. Our follow up to the original hit is even more social and engaging, and we’re excited to get it into the hands of our players globally. We thank Dan Porter for his efforts in making the Draw Something franchise a success and wish him well in his future endeavors. We’re proud to see talent like Sean Kelly take a bigger leadership role as the Head of our New York studio and lead the team to the global launch of Draw Something 2."
BetaBeat was the first to report the news on Monday.
We've reached out to Zynga to confirm the news independently, and we will update if we hear more.
The Draw Something disaster
Originally the purchase of OMGPOP made some sense, though I remember hearing rumblings from the very beginning that the amount the company paid was far too high for what they would be getting in return.
Draw Something had been an instant phenomenon, being downloaded 35 million times in its first six weeks alone after debuting that February. And the purchase initially looked like a winner when Draw Something became the top paid app in the iTunes store in April, but things quickly fell apart after that.
The game's numbers fell off severely and the game lost seven million users from May to June alone. Suddenly, the purchase of a small game company that had only seen a single success led to Zynga being severely criticized for being too hasty and overspending on an unproven property.
As Draw Something's numbers fell, so did Zynga's stock price.
(Image source: VentureBeat.com)
Zynga's stock ended trading Tuesday down 2.58% to $3.07 a share. That is down over 77% from the $13.72 the stock ended on March 21, 2012, the day that Zynga bought OMGPOP.
Despite the failure, Zynga has not given up on the idea of reviving Draw Something. Some ideas floated around to included turning the game into a TV show from Ryan Seacrest, though I have heard no mention of the idea since. In That June, Zynga announced that it would be partnering with Jennifer Lopez and Enrique Iglesias to promote the launching the game in 12 new languages.
And now, Zynga is betting that it can revive the propety with Draw Something 2, which was revealed in a Tweet from Porter earlier this month, in a response to none other than Ryan Seacrest (maybe that Draw Something tv show is actually happening after all?)
— Dan Porter (@tfadp) March 18, 2013
Only time will tell if Zynga can actually pull off a miracle and make people care about Draw Something again.
The Zynga exodus
Porter is the latest in a string of Zynga employees to flee the company.
First was Zynga’s Chief Operating Officer John Schappert who resigned in August. No explanation was given, with the company saying in an SEC filing that the resignation was “not tendered in connection with any disagreement with the Company on any matter relating to the Company’s operations, policies or practices.”
Zynga attempted to get its employees to stay by offering them stock options. According to Zynga’s form S-8, the company set aside 43,295,554 shares for its employees, at prices from $2.53 to $2.97 per share. Of course, given the low price of the stock, it should be too surprising that it did not work.
Others who have left include Chief Creative Officer Mike Verdu; Chief Operating Officer John Schappert; Alan Patmore, general manager of CityVille; Erik Bethke, general manager of Mafia Wars 2; Ya-Bing Chu, a VP in Zynga’s mobile division; and Jeremy Strauser, a general manager.
Porter is not even the first OMGPOP executive to say goodbye to Zynga. That would be Wilson Kriegel, the chief revenue officer of Omgpop, who left in September.
(Image source: http://articles.businessinsider.com)