Zynga’s Pincus hands CEO reins to former EA exec

Zynga founder Mark Pincus is stepping aside again to let someone else run the struggling social gaming company.

The company announced Tuesday that Frank Gibeau, a former executive with Electronic Arts, will become its new CEO. Gibeau, who has served on Zynga’s board since August, will take over from Pincus on March 7. Pincus, previously the company’s chairman and CEO, will become the company’s executive chairman.

“Frank has a history of developing strong teams and shipping market leading games,” Pincus said in a letter to employees that was released to the press. “He has a proven 25-year track record, having helped architect the successful turnaround of Electronic Arts.”

Gibeau becomes the second former EA executive to try to right Zynga’s ship in the last three years. In 2013, Pincus made a similar move, relinquishing his role as CEO in favor of Don Mattrick, a long-time video game industry executive who had worked at Microsoft and had previously been EA’s president. Unable to turn Zynga around, Mattrick resigned in April and Pincus stepped back into the CEO role.

In the early days of social gaming, Zynga dominated the industry. As recently as 2012, it had more than $1.3 billion in sales. But changes to Facebook’s platform and the shift to mobile games left Zynga flat-footed. By 2014, the company’s sales had plummeted to $690 million.

The company recovered a bit last year, growing sales and cutting losses, but it’s still far below it’s peak and still posting large losses annually. In a sign of the company’s diminished position, Zynga last week reportedly put its San Francisco headquarters up for sale.

Gibeau worked at EA for more than 20 years. Most recently, he served as the executive vice president of the company’s mobile games division, a position he left in May.

In after-hours trading following the news, Zynga’s stock was up 12 cents, or 5.6 percent, to $2.28.

Photo: Zynga CEO Mark Pincus walks off the stage after an press event at its headquarters in San Francisco in 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

 

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