Zynga Treasurer Mike Gupta jumps ship for Twitter
Will the last one left at Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) turn out the lights? Treasurer Mike Gupta is the latest high-profile executive to exit the beleaguered social gaming firm--Bloomberg reports Gupta, who joined Zynga in 2011 after eight years at Yahoo, has been named vice president of corporate finance and treasurer at Twitter.
More than half dozen senior executives have left Zynga in recent months: The company's stock has been in freefall since its late-2011 IPO, a decline blamed on challenges including algorithmic changes made by Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and diminishing mobile traffic for OMGPOP's Draw Something, which Zynga acquired for about $180 million in March 2012.
Earlier this week, Chief Financial Officer David Wehner left his post to accept a senior finance post at Facebook, with Chief Accounting Officer Mark Vranesh assuming the CFO post. Prior to Gupta and Wehner's exits, Zynga Chief Operating Officer John Schappert resigned in August, days after he was stripped of his responsibilities as head of social gaming development; Chief Creative Officer Mike Verdu left to launch his own startup; Bill Leinwand, the CTO of infrastructure cited as a catalyst behind Zynga's shift away from Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) cloud services to its internal Z Cloud platform, took a similar role at enterprise IT firm ServiceNow; and Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer Jeff Karp resigned his post in September.
Last month Zynga reported third-quarter revenues of $317 million, a 5 percent sequential decline; the firm previously said it expects 2012 bookings to range between $1.09 billion to $1.1 billion, lower than previous expectations. Zynga is now shuttering its Boston studio, mulling the fate of its Japan and UK offices, reducing staffing levels in its Austin, Texas, division and sunsetting 13 games. "These reductions, along with our ongoing efforts to implement more stringent budget and resource allocation around new games and partner projects, will improve our profitability and allow us to reinvest in great games and our Zynga network on Web and mobile," said Mark Pincus, co-founder and CEO.
This week Zynga promoted Chief Mobile Officer David Ko to COO, replacing Schappert. Ko, who joined Zynga in 2010 after leading Yahoo's mobile efforts, will oversee strategic planning, international, infrastructure and operations. Zynga also elevated Executive Vice President of Business and Corporate Development Barry Cottle to chief revenue officer, and Executive Vice President of Games Steven Chiang is now president of games.
The Wall Street Journal reports Pincus reshuffled Zynga's executive ranks after speaking with advisers including Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) board director Bill Campbell, who was brought in by Zynga investor Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Campbell said Pincus "was discouraged" and near tears when they met, adding he "felt terrible about what was happening. He felt the turmoil."
In an email to the Journal, Pincus said "rapid change in player habits and social technologies have dictated fundamental changes at Zynga. And when businesses change, it's inevitable that some people will choose to leave."
In other Zynga news, the company's arcade division is expanding into mobile with the introduction of Ruby Blast for Apple's iOS platform. Previously available on Facebook and Zynga.com under the title Ruby Blast Adventures, the color-matching game synchronizes players' Web and mobile accounts, and it enables them to view their friends' high scores and vie to reach the top of the leaderboard.
Roy Sehgal, vice president of Zynga's casual and arcade division, told TechCrunch that more than 58 million gamers access its arcade titles every month. According to Sehgal, arcade-style gaming is particularly well suited for mobile devices because the user experience is designed for shorter bursts of activity, as opposed to the more complex social games historically synonymous with the Zynga brand. Another arcade title, Bubble Safari, will launch on mobile in the near future.
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