Zynga Just Lost The Brothers Behind Its Big Mobile Hit, Words With Friends

Paul and David Bettner, Best Buy commercialPaul and David Bettner were stars at Zynga.

Photo: Best Buy

We last saw Paul and David Bettner, the brothers behind hit mobile game Words With Friends, starring in a Super Bowl commercial for Best Buy.Now they’ve been spotted heading through the exit at Zynga.

The Bettners sold Newtoy, the game studio behind the With Friends franchise, to Zynga in 2010 for $53 million, propelling it into the mobile-games business. But they stayed on to run the Dallas, Texas-based studio for Zynga.

Since then, With Friends has become even more important to Zynga. Two of the top five mobile games were made by the Bettners’ studio. (The other one, Draw Something, was also made by OMGPOP, another Zynga acquisition—albeit a disappointing one.)

In short, without the Bettners, Zynga would be nowhere in mobile. And mobile games—or so-called multiplatform games which you can play either on the Web or mobile, like Words With Friends—are Zynga’s future.

This is a big embarrassment for David Ko, the Zynga executive who championed the Newtoy and OMGPOP deals.

This is why Zynga desperately needs to stop the talent exodus or do a face-saving deal, fast.

At some point, if it keeps losing vital talent, Zynga won’t be an attractive acquisition, since potential buyers will just hire the people they want.

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