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Zynga CEO Don Mattrick lays out his 90-day plan for the company
Zynga CEO Don Mattrick lays out his 90-day plan for the company
July 25, 2013 | By Kris Ligman

July 25, 2013 | By Kris Ligman
More: Social/Online, Smartphone/Tablet, Business/Marketing

Departed Microsoft entertainment chief and inbound CEO for Zynga, Don Mattrick, spoke this afternoon during the company's earning call with investors. He addressed Zynga's rough financial quarter and expressed optimism that there was light at the end of the tunnel for the troubled social giant. He also laid out what he termed his "90 day plan" for the company.

"It is clear the market is growing at an incredible clip, and we're missing out on the market Apple, Facebook and Google are seeing," said Mattrick. "Getting a business back on track isn't easy and isn't quick... We need to get back to basics, and that means a longer-term view."

Mattrick's outlined 90-day plan, he says, will consist of "top-to-bottom business reviews" throughout the whole of Zynga, and "spending time heads-down with teams [to] break some bad habits and get back to good fundamentals."

Mattrick spoke candidly about the company's poor performance, saying bracingly that Zynga could face another six to twelve months of volatility before regaining its stride. He emphasized improving the quality of Zynga's output, saying what was needed was "a little more focus; a little more polish."

During the following Q&A with investors and analysts, Mattrick was asked point-blank why Zynga did not continue on its recent volley of layoffs and whittle down the company's 2,300-strong workforce to a more manageable size -- like that of King, which at 400-odd employees is outpacing Zynga in the market.

Mattrick took the blunt question on the chin, mildly admitting he, too, was a fan of King's Candy Crush, and praising the competing developer for its performance. But he didn't talk layoffs. Instead, he reemphasized the need for "focus."

"Imagine if we can start getting the same leverage out of our 2,300 that King gets out of their 400," said Mattrick. He maintained that Zynga's scale was not the issue; "effectively using the scale," he said, was.

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Justin Cox
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"[...]break some bad habits and get back to good fundamentals."

Does that mean Zynga would break the habit of cloning? Or maybe get back to the fundamentals of creating intrinsically rewarding gameplay first? I think I might be reading into that statement waaay too much.

Addison Martinez
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I hope you are right. Because despite their scale, problems, whatever, the real issue is the product they are putting out.

Diego Leao
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Improving "the basics" probably means improving the cloning process :)

Michael Joseph
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Apparently they lost 25% of their active daily users (from 52 million down to 39 million) over the last business quarter. That's a lot... kinda makes me not trust the previous numbers and that maybe they're finally being corrected.

In any case, not going to get them back in 90 days.

One of the most curious things about the on going Zynga train wreck is how negative opinions about the company have transcend the gaming community. That's a pretty rare thing. Electronic Arts might still be pissing off some folks but at least those folks are limited to the gaming community (eg. players, developers, journalists). A big reason for this is just all the media coverage on investment television channels like CNBC.

Machine Works
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Let's see if he can be aggressive enough do it (and really does have sweeping authority) or if he just changes the decor.

That said, there is lots of talent at Zynga and it is up the new CEO to infuse new energy into the dev teams.
This is a VERY tall order because of:
a) - the generic nature of the mainstream Zynga games "another Zynga game - yawn" and the teams subsequently not taking ownership
b) - management won't let their dev teams do what they are good at without guidelines causing games to deteriorate to their generic nature upon completion - this loops back to a).

Don Mattrick has the grisly task of reviewing every team to find the zombies and
the movers, fire the Zombies and THEN convince everyone to let the movers just do their job without interference of management to build great product within short time frames...

However, I am not convinced that will happen unless things get a lot worse a Zynga.

As to his wish to "use the scale" - he sounds like he has absorbed the most recent death of
the scale = success mantra as proven by SuperCell/ Gungho/King and is hinting at the inevitable - lay off a huge amount of people.

Boeing Skunk Teams, anyone?

-Andreas, Machineworks

Addison Martinez
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Scale can be a good thing if utilized properly. Look at Riot Games, 1000 + employees all focused on making one product amazing, and it is.

Zynga's Problems = 1. their games, 2. their free to play "Energy" model hinders games and limits player stickiness and personal attachment, 3. Their "advergaming" model is not seamless and thus is also a hindrance.

Jeremy Billow
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Hammer, meet nail.

The "energy" model has always been the reason why I couldn't get into social media based games, though I am very glad that sector as a whole seems to be shifting away from it.

Stephen Chow
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Game must be fun first. The same way working on FB can't apply to mobile

Jacob Johnson
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If "Create original IPs" are not in this plan, my hope is still lost for this company.