Mark Pincus has stepped down as CEO of his struggling online gaming company Zynga for the second time.
Replacing him is gaming veteran and current Zynga board member Frank Gibeau, the company announced on its blog.
Pincus, an affable Silicon Valley character whose wealth is estimated at about $1bn, founded the company seven years ago and first resigned in April 2014 after a dramatic fall in the company’s stock market value. He returned as CEO in April 2015, but this second stint only lasted less than a year.
Zynga stock has fallen 85% from its 2012 high.
Zynga’s fortunes soared with the massively popular game Farmville, one of the first big social media gaming phenomenons. It has since struggled to find similar hits, in part because people tire of games and quickly find new ones, which flooded the market, including King’s Candy Crush and Rovio’s Angry Birds. Also, users began shifting toward mobile games, while Zynga had made its splash with desktop. And probably more than anything: Facebook, its primary distribution platform, continued tweaks to Facebook’s newsfeed have had the effect of demoting Zynga’s content.
Pincus stepping down isn’t entirely unexpected. He has had to cut staff from 3,500 to about 2,300, and put the company’s iconic headquarters up for sale on 23 February. A massive seven-story building in San Francisco’s Design District bought for $228m in 2012, the site includes a basketball court, gym, candy shop, and old time Winnebago. Parties at the headquarters (and there were always parties) were spectacular, and its closure marks the end of a certain heady era for those who believed wacky viral games could become viable businesses.
Gibeau’s background is in mobile gaming, including two decades at games stalwart Electronic Arts. He’ll be pushing on some of Zynga’s more successful ventures like their slot-machine games, which have in the past year become a major focus for the company.
News of the new CEO sent stock up after hours more than 7%.
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