Former Facebook rainmaker Owen Van Natta joins Zynga

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Owen Van Natta, who unexpectedly stepped down in February as chief executive of News Corp.’s MySpace, has resurfaced at Zynga, a social gaming company, as its executive vice president.

Van Natta, 41, has also been appointed to Zynga’s board, becoming the fifth member alongside Zynga CEO Marc Pincus; LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman; Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Bing Gordon; and Brad Feld, managing director of the Foundry Group.


Founded in 2007, Zynga has become one of the biggest developers of social games on Facebook. Its games, including Farmville and Mafia Wars, attract 65 million players a day.

Van Natta was on vacation Friday and not available for an interview.

His 10-month stint at MySpace came to an end after he clashed with News Corp.’s digital media chief Jon Miller. Van Natta had been chief executive of Project Playlist, a music-sharing website, when News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch recruited him to help revitalize MySpace.

Prior to Project Playlist, Van Natta was in charge of operations at Facebook, where he helped build the company’s advertising deals and forged an investment deal under which Microsoft Corp. paid $240 million for a 1.6% stake in the social network, giving Facebook a $15-billion valuation.

Zynga is no doubt hoping that Van Natta will apply his Midas touch at the social gaming company, where his responsibilities when he comes to work Monday will be nearly identical to his job at Facebook: namely, ‘revenue strategy, corporate development, international expansion and brand.’

-- Alex Pham