Don Mattrick Faces Tough Questions As New Zynga CEO

Zynga was expected to retain its position as one of the leading mobile social casino game providers in the market.  But after a series of controversial decisions by founder and former CEO Mark Pincus, the company made an executive decision to remove Pincus from his position as CEO.

The Board nominated one of their own members, Don Mattrick to succeed Pincus as CEO of Zynga.  Mattrick, originally from Vancouver, is world-renowned for his success as President of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, which spawned the successful launch of the Xbox franchise.  Prior to his position at Microsoft, Mattrick worked as President of Worldwide Studios, under the umbrella of the Electronic Arts gaming company.

Zynga went public as a company in 2011, having gathered an impressive 12 million active monthly mobile users.  Gambling insiders credit the launch of Zynga Poker for much of the company’s early success, which remained its most successful casino game by the end of 2012.  However, follow-up games failed to improve on Zynga Poker’s early success, and lost market share to other competitors.

The goal for Mattrick is to generate new revenue from Zynga’s mobile casino games.  At the end of the first quarter in 2013, the company generated $58 million from its mobile gaming products, which dwarfs in comparison to many of its competitors, some of which exceeded $300 million over the same three month period.

David Wehner, Zynga CFO, noted in his 2012 earnings report that the company’s mobile gambling revenue, outside of Zynga Poker, paled in comparison to its online gambling business.  The challenge for Mattrick going forward is to transition successful online casino games onto mobile gaming platforms that prove popular for players, and profitable for the company. 

Some investors are even asking that Zynga become a private company once again to allow breathing room for trial and error, an idea that Mattrick hasn’t ruled out. 

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