Zynga founder Pincus leaving operations role

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 23, 2014 at 5:39 pm •  Published: April 23, 2014
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NEW YORK (AP) — Online game maker Zynga's founder Mark Pincus is stepping down as chief product officer, less than a year after he was replaced as the company's CEO, as the company's sales slide.

Zynga said Wednesday that Pincus will remain chairman of the company he founded in 2007.

Zynga went public in 2011 on the strength of games like "Farmville" and "Mafia Wars," which had enthusiastic Facebook followings. But then rival digital game makers invaded Facebook and more people migrated to other pastimes on smartphones. Zynga has been cutting jobs and posting losses.

The company is trying to shake things up. Don Mattrick, who had been in charge of Microsoft's interactive entertainment division, replaced Pincus as CEO in July. Zynga agreed to buy NaturalMotion, the company behind the hit mobile games "CSR Racing" and "Clumsy Ninja," in January.

Pincus giving up his operational role was a needed change for Zynga and "a huge endorsement" of Mattrick's leadership of the company, said analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities.

Pachter also said Zynga's guidance was good, and shares rose nearly 6 percent in aftermarket trading.

The San Francisco-based company announced several new executive hires on Wednesday. They include Alex Garden of Microsoft, who is now the president of Zynga Studios. Garden had been in charge of Xbox Live and Xbox Music, Video and Reading.