Zynga Had a Major Shakeup and Its Shares Are Soaring
Shares of Zynga leapt 8% in pre-market trading Wednesday, after struggling CEO and founder Mark Pincus announced plans to step down a day earlier.
A former vice president of Electronic Arts Mobile and a board member at Zynga (ZNGA), Frank Gibeau, has been tapped as his replacement. Pincus will remain as executive chairman of the board.
The shakeup is nothing new for the social gaming company, which has dealt with years of management turnover as it struggled to stay profitable. Pincus previously stepped down as Zynga CEO in 2013 to make way for ex-Microsoft executive Don Mattrick (MSFT), hoping to make fix the company’s financial woes. But under Mattrick’s direction, Zynga sputtered.
Mattrick left abruptly, and Zynga brought Pincus’ back in 2015. But the two-time CEO was unable to reform the FarmVille-maker or keep up with its consumer base, which was quickly migrating to mobile platforms.
Shares have fallen 20% since Pincus April re-entry, and are down over 85% from their March 2012 high of $15.91.
Gibeau “brings some experience and skill sets we don’t have,” Pincus told the Wall Street Journal. “My DNA is more in social and entrepreneuring,” and Gibeau “has far more depth in terms of running and building game businesses at scale.”
And perhaps Gibeau will be able to help Zynga capture more of the mobile gaming sector.
Gibeau has served seven months on Zynga’s board, and was executive vice president of gaming developer Electronic Arts’ @electronic art(EA) mobile division. EA has been responsible with popular mobile titles including Bejeweled, and Plants vs. Zombies.
“When Mark asked me to be CEO, it was a no-brainer. I see all the ingredients of a successful turnaround here,” Gibeau told VentureBeat.