Mark Pincus is stepping down from all operational duties at Zynga, the social gaming company that he founded in 2007. As part of the change, he will shift to non-executive chairman of the San Francisco-based company, give up his title as chief product officer and will no longer have employees under his purview.
In an interview earlier today about the move, Pincus said that he and CEO Don Mattrick talked about the need for a change following 10 months of transition after Pincus stepped down from the top job there last year.
“I had wanted to stay on doing the product role for a while, because I wanted to put my hands on the product and make sure the company continued to also pursue its social mission,” said Pincus. “Don and some of the existing team and new people really embraced that and, so, ultimately a ship is better with one captain putting a hand on the wheel.”
In a statement, Mattrick noted that Pincus had “built Zynga into an entertainment leader, turning brands like FarmVille, Words With Friends and Zynga Poker into household names and daily habits for hundreds of millions of consumers.”
He added: “Going forward, with Mark in his role as chairman of the board, we will continue to be close partners and work together to achieve our winning aspiration to be the at-scale industry leader by delivering more No. 1 games in more categories than any other competitor.”
In another statement, entrepreneur Reid Hoffman, who just left the Zynga board and was one of its earliest investors, was also a little bit elegiac.
“Mark has always had amazing vision for building Zynga,” said Hoffman. “He understood social games at scale before anyone else — how games from Poker to FarmVille have become a part of people’s social lives.”
Pincus’s tenure saw the company rise from obscurity to a market cap of more than $10 billion in March 2012, only to slide below $2 billion about six months later. Today its stands at $3.8 billion.
Pincus said that he still plans on being present at the company just one day a week at most now, although he will have no management duties. Instead, he will initially spend his time doing personal investing — he has been an active angel investor in the past. Pincus noted that he was not likely to start another company anytime soon, although he has considered creating an incubator.
“I am going to invest in ideas that I think can be breakthrough products, and I don’t feel any burning need to go out and start a company,” he said, adding that he was still interested mostly in the consumer Internet space. “I want to do things that are more organic, because that’s where Zynga started.”
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