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Zynga founder Mark Pincus steps down as company poaches Xbox Live point-man

Zynga founder Mark Pincus steps down as company poaches Xbox Live point-man

April 23, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

Less than a year ago, an embattled Zynga named Don Mattrick as its CEO. Mattrick, an EA veteran, came from Microsoft, where he'd most recently headed up launch efforts for Xbox One.

Mattrick took over the Zynga role from company founder Mark Pincus, who'd been roundly criticized by investors, and soon announced a 90-day plan to reform the company. The 90 days may have elapsed, but those efforts are still ongoing.

Today, the company announced an even bigger change alongside its first quarter 2014 financial results: Pincus is stepping aside almost completely. He's abandoning his chief product officer role and moving away from day-to-day operations for the company, though he will remain chairman of the board.

Further from that, Mattrick has appointed Microsoft colleague Alex Garden president of Zynga Studios. Garden was general manager for Xbox Live and Xbox Music, Video and Reading. Garden will now oversee all of Zynga's game development studios. He's also the co-founder of Relic Entertainment, and also had a stint as CEO of the North American division of Nexon -- publishers of MMO MapleStory.

Mattrick hasn't stopped there. The company has also added two more C-level executives, it has announced: Hollywood veteran Henry LaBounta (Minority Report, Twister) joins as chief visual officer, and Jennifer Nuckles comes on as chief marketing officer. Nuckles, the release notes, has an e-commerce background and experience marketing directly to women.

Don't forget the numbers

Zynga is still in the midst of transformation, and its numbers for the quarter ended March 31 reflect that: Year-on-year, its daily active users are way down -- 28 million, as compared to 52 million in the quarter a year ago. Monthly active users shrank from 253 million to 123 million in the comparable period.

Revenues decreased accordingly: They were down 36 percent year-on-year to $168 million. Of note, its biggest games haven't changed: FarmVille 2, Zynga Poker, and FarmVille are the number one, two, and three earners, as they were a year ago.

This -- alongside a hefty restructuring charge of $30 million as the company reshapes the way it does business, including jettisoning some data centers -- led to a net loss of $61 million for the first quarter of 2014.

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