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Zynga CEO Mattrick admits that Supercell ate its lunch
Zynga CEO Mattrick admits that Supercell ate its lunch
June 5, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

"Look, the fact that we didnít have a mobile version of FarmVille is what created the opportunity for Hay Day. So weíre just detangling and doing the obvious things. Imagine we went to the schoolyard, left our lunchbox unattended, someone was eating it. We're just kind of picking up our lunch now."
- Zynga CEO Don Mattrick

In a lengthy new Q&A conducted at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Technology Conference, Zynga CEO Don Mattrick admits that the company had lost its way and missed out on even the most obvious opportunities -- as he attempts to steer it toward being a mobile-first competitor with the upstarts that have, of late, been trouncing it in the market.

As a first step toward that goal, Zynga launched FarmVille 2 on mobile in April of this year -- long after Supercell proved with both Hay Day and Clash of Clans that tablet-only social games could be massive successes. The game is a sophisticated attempt to capture mobile users directly, while also giving its Facebook audience reasons to play both versions.

It's interesting to see the CEO of the company cop to his company's inability to compete on stage, in front of investors and analysts, even if it's true.

Mattrick also affirmed that he's been cleaning house in the company's management. "The majority of our team has turned over," says Mattrick. He says he "candidly de-cluttered" Zynga's management -- he's "taken a couple of layers of reporting structure" out of the company.

Plenty of execs have fled the company since his tenure began -- three this week -- and Mattrick says that's no accident: He specifically reviewed them.

Says Mattrick, "And over the past 10 months I've tried to engage with people in a very thoughtful and deliberate way. The first thing when I on-boarded, just meeting people who were there and saying, 'What do you do? Show me the tools that youíre using. Do you have a point of view about competitors? About the market? Do you have plans for growth over the next period of time? What do you love about our company? Our space? What is your personal legacy that you want to leave? How are you making teams better? How are we competing?'"

You can read the full transcript of the interview at Seeking Alpha.

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Dane MacMahon
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"What do you love about our company? Our space? What is your personal legacy that you want to leave?"

Oh man I love when corporations get lovey-dovey.

Jane Castle
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I love the pizza on Fridays. My personal legacy is to drink the coffee before anyone else has a chance to. That is all I could say if I worked at Zynga.

Alan Barton
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Oh yes, you've got to love being paid in free pizzas, always a good warning sign.

I've completely lost count of the number of free pizzas I've been paid in over the years in various companies.

I've learned being paid in free pizza is always a good warning sign you will be in for trouble long term.

The irony is, even if I was paid a free pizza for lunch every working day, for every thousand I've earned my bosses over the years, I would still have to live another at least 300 years to be paid in even just free pizzas! ... and I doubt I would live even a tenth of that time, having to eat a free pizza for lunch every working day! (and that's just adding up the income from the projects I was the sole programmer on! ... that's not even considering the additional income from projects where I was in a team of programmers!).

So yes, being paid in free pizzas, always a good warning sign.

Jane Castle
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Alas this warning sign is available at every company I have worked at.......

If they didn't offer free pizza I would be shocked. It's a well worn, tried and true corporate scam to put on employees.

Gil Salvado
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Well, guess what? Casual gamers playing casual games like casual platforms. My mind just explo-...

Ken Love
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I would tend to think the REAL warning sign, is when they no longer offer the free pizza. :-/

Alan Barton
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No the money never gets low enough for no free pizza. Because the boss will shut down the company before that, but if they wanted, they could still buy more free pizza.

Of course, they will tell you they have no more money left, but what usually happens is the bosses are never so despirate for money to live on, as most of their staff who they throw out of work. The bosses in my experience can usually survive without work for many months (and often years) before needing to find another job. Whereas the staff however may not even get their last month of money let alone any redudancy money, so they despirately need to find another job.

The only time they would cut out free pizza is when the bosses want to cut staff numbers by frightening some staff away, without paying out redundany money. (They are always careful to make staff leave only when they want staff to leave. At all other times, they are careful not to forewarn you of their plans).