He's baaaaaack: Mark Pincus returns as Zynga CEO

Steven Loeb · April 8, 2015 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/3d16

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Less than two years after taking over the job as CEO of Zynga, Don Mattrick is already out the door, the company has revealedMattrick's depart is pretty abrupt too: he will be leaving the company, and its Board of Directors, effective Wednesday.

His replacement is a very familiar face: co-founder, and former CEO of the company, Mark Pincus.

"Don joined us in a very important time in our evolution. I sincerely thank him for his leadership in better serving our players in a mobile first world and for delivering world class quality and value to our consumers," Pincus said in a statement.

The biggest development over the last two years, he said, was the growth of Zynga on mobile, going from 27% of bookings to 60%.

"Now that we are a mobile first company, it's time to renew our focus on our founding mission to connect the world through games and our vision to make play and social games a mass market activity. I am returning to the company that I love in order to accelerate innovation in the most popular categories like Action Strategy and strengthen our focus on our core areas like Invest and Express," he said

"I look forward to partnering with our leaders to intensify our focus on social experiences for the millions of consumers who play our games."

In his own statement, Mattrick said that he believed that "the timing is now right for me to leave as CEO and let Mark lead the company into its next chapter given his passion for the founding vision and his ability to couple our mobile progress with Zynga's unique strengths."

"When I joined the company in July 2013, Mark and I shared a vision of building a meaningful company that redefines entertainment in an increasingly mobile world. I am proud of the progress we have made together."

Mattrick worked at Electronic Arts for 25 years before coming in to oversee the Xbox 360 business at Microsoft in 2007. As for what he will do next, he left that pretty vague, saying only that his plan was "to return to Canada to pursue my next challenge."

At his own request, Pincus will receive an annual salary of $1 as CEO.

Investors don't seem to be too happy with this turn of events. After seeing its stock rise 3.57% in regular trading, the company has crashed over 10% in after hours trading. 

Pincus as CEO

I'm sure not everyone will be happy to see Pincus come back to head his old company. His reign was controversial, at best. Like the time he admitted that the company has scammed its users and accusations of insider trading.

And then there was the way he treated his own employees.

In lieu of raises, Pincus often gave shares of the company to his top talent as he built his online-game start-up, so that when the company went public, those employees would cash in.

In 2010, as the company began preparing for its IPO, Pincus decided that too many options had been given out. So he, and the company, demanded that those employees give back their share, or they would be fired.

Of course, not everything he did was bad. He had a good eye for talent and he set up Zynga.org, a nonprofit organization that  works with other game developers to leverage games to raise awareness and funds for nonprofits.

Plus, he was behind Zynga's partnership with Facebook, which is what propelled the company to the stratosphere in the first place.

Now that he has had some time off, hopefully Pincus will put his more positive traits into play going forward, while leaving some of the less savory aspects of his leadership style behind.

VatorNews has reached out to Pincus for further comment on his future at Zynga. We will update this story if we learn more. 

(Image source: bloomberg.com)

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Zynga is the largest social gaming company with 8.5 million daily users and 45 million monthly users.  Zynga’s games are available on Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Hi5, Friendster, Yahoo! and the iPhone, and include Texas Hold’Em Poker, Mafia Wars, YoVille, Vampires, Street Racing, Scramble and Word Twist.  The company is funded by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, IVP, Union Square Ventures, Foundry Group, Avalon Ventures, Pilot Group, Reid Hoffman and Peter Thiel.  Zynga is headquartered at the Chip Factory in San Francisco.  For more information, please visit www.zynga.com.


Mark Pincus

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