Zynga continues to bleed talent

Zynga's playful reception desk at its headquarters in San Francisco.
(Zynga Inc.)

Zynga, once a magnet for game industry talent, has lost two more top executives this week amid slumping share prices.

Bill Mooney, a studio vice president who handled the company’s Zynga Game Network, and Brian Birtwistle, vice president of marketing, have turned in their resignations this week, according to a report from Bloomberg.

The news come on the heels of other high-level departures, including Mike Verdu, who left his post as Zynga’s chief creative officer this week to start his own company.

Others who have left Zynga include John Schappert, its former chief operating officer, and Alan Patmore, who was the general manager of one of Zynga’s top games, “CityVille.”


Zynga’s shares, which debuted at $10 in December on Nasdaq, have fallen from a high of $14.69 on March 2 to a low of $2.70 on Aug. 2, a week after the company posted a $22.8-million second-quarter loss, compared with a $1.4-million profit last year. In addition, the amount of revenue Zynga generated on average from each daily player fell 10% to 4.6 cents, down from 5.1 cents in 2011

“Zynga’s voluntary attrition rate was around 1% for the first four years,” Zynga spokeswoman Dani Dudeck said. “They continue to stay well below the industry average.”

Dudeck said Zynga expected an increase in attrition in the weeks and months after the company’s initial public offering and employees were free -- after a certain time -- to sell their shares on the open market.

“Our current attrition levels are not only below what we expected and modeled in our post-IPO planning,” Dudeck said, “it’s not at all surprising that some would move on and/or retire post-IPO.”


Analysts agreed, saying that the number of departures is not unusual, particularly for a company like Zynga, which operates in a fast-moving social gaming market that constantly requires retooling its approach to adapt to a rapidly evolving business.

“At first blush, it seems suspiciously high,” said P.J. McNealy, a media consultant at Digital World Research. “But a deeper look shows that the business model continues to evolve, and they need different skill sets in the management team.”


Zynga shuffle casts out COO John Schappert


Zynga shares tumble on earnings shortfall

Another top Zynga executive, Mike Verdu, exits

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