It’s ‘Game Over’ as Zynga founder Mark Pincus leaves company

Zynga Wednesday announced Co-founder Mark Pincus will no longer be involved with the day-to-day operations of the social gaming company.
(JAKUB MOSUR / For the Times)

Zynga’s Mark Pincus will no longer be involved with the day-to-day operations at the company he co-founded seven years ago.

The announcement came Wednesday morning along with the company’s results for the first quarter.

Pincus led Zynga to fame and Facebook success years ago with the release of numerous social games that gained wide followings, including “FarmVille,” “Words With Friends,” “CityVille” and several others.

But in recent years, Zynga has been unable to replicate its success, struggling to compete with new games that have been built for smartphones and tablets.


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That led to Pincus stepping down as CEO in July, with former Microsoft executive Don Mattrick taking the helm of the company.

Over the last nine months, Pincus continued to be involved with the company’s games as Zynga’s chief product officer, but ultimately, Pincus decided it was better for Zynga to solely follow Mattrick’s lead.

“A ship is better with one captain putting a hand on the wheel,” Pincus told Recode.

Pincus will continue to serve as Zynga’s non-executive chairman of the board, but at most, he will now only visit Zynga once a week. Pincus said he plans on shifting his focus toward angel investing and has considered launching an incubator for new startups.

“I am going to invest in ideas that I think can be breakthrough products, and I don’t feel any burning need to go out and start a company,” Pincus told Recode. “I want to do things that are more organic, because that’s where Zynga started.”

In a statement, Mattrick thanked Pincus for his contributions to the company over the years and said Pincus and Zynga will remain close partners.

“I would like to thank Mark,” Mattrick said. “Mark has built Zynga into an entertainment leader, turning brands like FarmVille, Words With Friends and Zynga Poker into household names and daily habits for hundreds of millions of consumers.”


Last week, Zynga released “FarmVille 2: Country Escape” for Apple iOS and Android devices, the mobile version of its FarmVille flagship franchise. The release is part of Mattrick’s strategy to focus on mobile games, rather than those built for the Web. Zynga said 75% of its upcoming games are primarily for mobile devices.


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