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Zynga founder Pincus steps down as Chief Product Officer

Former Microsoft execs recruited amidst executive restructuring

Zynga founder Mark Pincus has stepped down from his role as chief product officer, the firm has announced.


"Founder Mark Pincus has decided to move on from his operational role as Chief Product Officer at Zynga to focus on serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors," said Zynga CEO Don Mattrick in a letter to employees, which was published publicly on Wednesday.

In a statement of his own, Pincus said, "While I'll still keep an office at Zynga, and be active in supporting the company, I will not have an operating role. Most importantly, I remain Zynga's largest shareholder and biggest believer."

This is the second major change to Pincus' role within the firm inside a year, after having handed the CEO role to Mattrick, the former head of Mircorosft's Interactive Entertainment Business, in July 2013.

In a candid admission of his shortcomings as a CEO, Pincus told recode following today's announcement, "I think I give myself high marks being an entrepreneur and entrepreneuring a big idea about how popular social gaming could be. But I learned a lot of hard lessons on the CEO front ... and do not give myself very high marks as a CEO of a large-scale company."

Wednesday's announcement also detailed a number of high-level changes as part of sweeping restructuring efforts within the company's executive team.

Three new execs have joined the firm; Alex Garden is now President of Zynga Studios, Henry LaBounta holds the role of Chief Visual Officer, and Jennifer Nuckles has been named Chief Marketing Officer.

Garden was formerly General Manager for Xbox LIVE and Xbox Music, Video and Reading, while LaBounter also previously held roles at Electronic Arts and Microsoft Studios.

Additionally, exec VP of games Steve Chiang will leave the firm after four years of tenure, while COO Clive Downie, CFO David Lee, GC Devang Shah, NaturalMotion's CEO Torsten Reil and Alex as President of Zynga Studios, will report directly to Mattrick.

"These organizational changes are critical to help us execute more nimbly against our strategic frame of grow and sustain, create new hits and drive efficiencies," Said Mattrick.

"As we grow our culture of innovation, I am confident that these leaders will strengthen our creative and technical capabilities as well as nurture and mentor our existing teams."

Mattrick's move to the social games firm in 2013 represented a major shake-up for the struggling business, which had suffered large-scale redundancies and studio closures in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas.

Mark Pincus had struggled with the firm's misfortunes, following continued losses of over $209 million in 2012, and over $404 million in 2011.