Mark Pincus has stepped down from his role as CEO of publicly-traded social game developer Zynga, less than a year after taking the reins in April 2015. He’s staying with the company in a new role of executive chairman.
Now, Pincus is handing the CEO role over to Zynga board member Frank Gibeau, a 25-year gaming industry veteran credited with completely turning around mega-publisher Electronic Arts’ mobile gaming business, the company announced after market close on Tuesday.
Under Gibeau, EA turned mobile games like “The Simpsons: Tapped Out” and “Plants vs. Zombies” into lucrative businesses. Now, the hope is that he’ll bring some of that magic to Zynga — because, frankly, the once-hot Zynga needs it.
This was actually Pincus’ second run as Zynga CEO: He served as CEO from the company’s founding in 2007 through 2013, when he stepped down and handed the role over to Microsoft veteran Don Mattrick. In early 2015, Mattrick himself stepped down, and Pincus stepped back up as CEO.
Despite Zynga’s grand ambitions with a slate of new games under Pincus, the “Words With Friends” developer has seen its stock get crushed after whiffing on its most recent earnings.
After going no higher than $3.50 over the last year, Zynga stock has cratered to $2.16 ahead of this announcement. Meanwhile, reports swirl that Zynga is planning to sell its iconic San Francisco headquarters, which it purchased in 2012 for $228 million.
Pincus says that Gibeau has been very involved with Zynga’s business and plans over the seven months he’s held a board seat. Because of that, Pincus doesn’t anticipate a lot of bumps during the transition.
And while Gibeau handles the day-to-day tasks of the chief executive, Pincus says that he’s going to stay involved with Zynga, focusing on bigger-picture vision stuff and helping teams within the company talk to each other.