Fri, Apr 10, 2015 - Page 15 News List

Zynga cofounder back in play as chief executive

‘I AM INSPIRED’:Mark Pincus returns following a two-year break after the firm lost US$45m in Q4 last year. He has high hopes for its new mobile games

AFP, SAN FRANCISCO

Zynga Inc, the struggling social gaming group, on Wednesday announced that cofounder Mark Pincus would return as chief executive, less than two years after being replaced.

Pincus, who has been chairman of the San Francisco company, said he would seek to “accelerate innovation” at the group, which rose to fame as a producer of games for Facebook Inc.

His return comes after he handed over the chief executive job to Don Mattrick from Microsoft Corp’s entertainment division in a bid to reverse the company’s slide.

“Now that we are a mobile-first company, it’s time to renew our focus on our founding mission to connect the world through games and our vision to make play and social games a mass market activity,” Pincus said in a statement. “I am returning to the company that I love in order to accelerate innovation in the most popular categories like Action Strategy and strengthen our focus on our core areas like Invest and Express.”

Zynga has been in retrenchment over the past two years, cutting employees and closing its operations in China as it strives for profitability.

It lost US$45 million in the fourth quarter of last year, even though it gained customers in mobile.

That brought the loss for the full year to US$225 million after a US$36 million loss in 2013.

Zynga, which was founded in 2007, launched games such as CityVille, Words With Friends and Zynga Poker on Facebook and other platforms.

The games are free to play, but the company generates revenue by selling virtual in-game goods to players and serving up advertising.

Pincus said he has high expectations for new games in the pipeline.

“I am inspired by our upcoming products — it is the most exciting slate of mobile games in Zynga’s history with titles like Empires & Allies, Dawn of Titans and FarmVille: Harvest Swap,” he said. “These games are coming on the heels of one of the most successful mobile launches in our history with Wizard of Oz Slots, which was launched this past November by our Spooky Cool team in Chicago.”

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