TMCnet Feature
July 31, 2013

Zynga's Top Brass Resigning, Three This Month

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

It's one thing when a company lays off large numbers of workers. That's a tragedy no one ever really wants to see. But when a company starts seeing substantial numbers of top executives resigning, and in close proximity to one another time-wise, that's the kind of thing that makes people take notice. That's also said to be what's going on at Zynga, according to reports from people close to the issue.

The reports—which came from anonymous sources, as the departures haven't yet been made public—indicate that both a vice president and a senior vice president of games, Nathan Etter and John Osvald respectively, as well as Jesse Janosov, a vice president with Zynga's (News - Alert) casino division, have all put in resignations. One case—Nathan Etter—seems to be confirmed, as his LinkedIn profile now shows him to be vice president with Disney (News - Alert) Interactive.

The timing here is perhaps of particular note, especially given that former Microsoft executive Don Mattrick recently stepped up to join the ranks of Zynga, taking over Mark Pincus' old slot as chief executive officer. But by like token, the departures also join several others who have recently left Zynga's employ since the company went public back in December 2011, about a dozen at last report.

The departures also come at a time when Zynga is not only on a lower ebb in the gaming industry, with several competitors like and its “Candy Crush Saga” game stepping in, but also when Zynga itself is starting to branch out from regular video gaming and step into gaming in the fullest sense, as in gambling. Perhaps most distressing of all, at least for Zynga, many of the departed executives have formed competing companies, including startups like JuiceBox Games, TapZen and Bee Cave Games.

Thus, the question of just why so much of Zynga's top brass is heading out remains, and several possible explanations arrive hot on the heels of asking the question in the first place. Perhaps the arrival of Mattrick—who stated on a recent conference call that the company was likely to see some “volatility” as it “get[s] back to some good fundamentals”—is hastening the departure of some of those top figures. Considering how many left for other jobs directly, it could be that said departures simply got better offers elsewhere; it's the kind of thing that routinely happens in a capitalist system. The sheer number of startups geared toward working in the same market, meanwhile, certainly doesn't hurt that assessment any, especially when it's considered just how many indie game makers are already in place, and how many new opportunities are opening up for independent game development on PCs, mobile devices, and even some consoles.

Zynga's own fortunes in the marketplace are down somewhat, with taking over as the top maker of games on Facebook (News - Alert); Zynga had just three top 10 titles on Facebook at the end of the second quarter, according to reports, and this is down from seven just a year prior.

Whether the top figures are abandoning Zynga as it faces disaster, or whether there's just better opportunity to be had elsewhere, it's clear that Zynga is going through some very—as Mattrick put it—“volatile” times indeed. But will Zynga stabilize and come back from its rough patch? Or is this the beginning of the end for the company? Only time will tell just which outcome is proven right.

Edited by Alisen Downey
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