Zynga founder Pincus to replace Mattrick as CEO

Zynga founder Pincus to replace Mattrick as CEO

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Zynga founder Mark Pincus has confirmed that he is to return as chief executive officer of the social gaming company after it was revealed that Don Mattrick is to step down from the role.

Mattrick had served as chief executive officer since July 2013, taking over from Pincus, who opted to step aside to focus on his roles as chairman and chief product officer.

During his tenure, Mattrick focused on Zynga’s various mobile operations in an effort to turn around the firm’s fortunes after it had been unable to capitalise on its popular ‘Farmville’ social game.

However, despite the best efforts of Mattrick, Zynga has continued to fall behind in the social gaming market. Shares in the company have been trading below $5 for more than a year now, while shares fell as much as 11 per cent in extended trading hours upon the news of Mattrick’s departure.

Mattrick, who headed up Microsoft Corp’s Xbox business before joining the Zynga team, will also step down from the social gaming company’s board. In a statement, he said he intends to return to Canada in order to pursue his next challenge.

Pincus, who founded Zynga in 2007, will now return as chief executive officer and attempt to recapture the tremendous levels of growth it experienced during its earlier years. Just a few years ago, Zynga was regarded as one of the fastest growing companies in Silicon Valley, but has been hit by heavy losses in recent times.

The company also faces a lawsuit in the US over accusations it defrauded shareholders about its prospects before and after its IPO in December 2011.

Speaking in a letter to Zynga employees confirming his return as chief executive officer, Pincus stated that the company will continue to follow a mobile-first model in order to pursue growth.

"Now that we are a mobile first company, it’s time to renew our focus on our vision to make play and social games a mass market activity," Pincus said. "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.

"Zynga pioneered social gaming for the mass market and our mission to connect the world through games has never wavered.

"I know many of you across the company globally are heads down focused on readying new player experiences and supporting our evergreen, live games. I want to thank you all for continuing to dedicate yourselves to our mission and what’s best for our consumers."

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