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Plugged In

Zynga’s troubles drive CEO to the brink of tears

Plugged In

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Marc Pincus (Getty Images)

There are plenty of Zynga investors who want to cry after watching the stock has plunge so precipitously over the past year. One of those is CEO Marc Pincus.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Apple director Bill Campbell, who was brought in to advise the social giant's founder earlier this year as things imploded, says Pincus was "discouraged" and near tears over the state of the company.

Campbell's intervention came at the behest of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, one of the company's biggest investors. Bing Gordon, a Kleiner Perkins partner and former chief creative officer at EA, was the first to notice the problems at the company starting in April.

Facebook games, he noted, weren't growing -- and Zynga had no real mobile strategy at the time (which might be why it overpaid for Draw Something developer OMGPOP). Meanwhile, employee morale was down and many were thinking about jumping ship.

Pincus has historically followed his gut when it comes to management decisions and styles, so Kleiner Perkins warned Campbell that he might not make much progress, but Campbell says he found Pincus very open to advice.

Among the suggestions he seemingly has taken from the therapeutic conversations is the need to delegate more. After stripping John Schappert of his chief operating officer duties in August (and once again assuming them himself), Pincus named David Ko to the role this week. Another executive has been put in charge of all games.

The idea is for Pincus to focus on high-level decisions. But it's also a chance for the company's employees to contribute a bit more as it tries to right the ship.

"I told him you can't take all the air out of the room," said Campbell.

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