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Zynga hires chief operating officer with mobile expertise

The corporate logo of Zynga Inc, the social network game development company, is shown at its headquarters in San Francisco, California Apri
The corporate logo of Zynga Inc, the social network game development company, is shown at its headquarters in San Francisco, California Apri

By Gerry Shih

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Zynga Inc said on Thursday it hired Clive Downie, an executive from a mobile gaming company, to be its new chief operating officer overseeing mobile game distribution and other business functions.

The game publisher, which once enjoyed outsized sales from popular PC-based games such as FarmVille, has sought to regain its financial footing by introducing titles that can be played on smartphones and tablets, the increasingly preferred format for casual gamers.

Wall Street expects Zynga to report later on Thursday a 40 percent drop in quarterly revenues from a year ago, underscoring how quickly its business model has crumbled as fickle gamers put down Zynga's Facebook games for other companies' offerings.

Downie will oversee how Zynga games are published and distributed, as well as its partnerships with other gaming platforms, Zynga said. He was previously a senior executive at Tokyo-based DeNA Co Ltd, a mobile software company that provided games, as well as music, shopping and e-commerce services. He has also worked at Electronic Arts Inc.

Downie is the first major hire made by Zynga Chief Executive Officer Don Mattrick, who replaced founder Mark Pincus in July, when the shares were trading below $3, or more than 70 percent below its $10 IPO price.

In August, Mattrick cleared out the existing senior management, including former chief operating officer David Ko.

Following Downie's hire, Mattrick will continue to personally oversee game development and approve new projects, Zynga said.

Mattrick is expected to offer investors the first detailed look at his turnaround strategy on Thursday.

After a brief surge following Mattrick's summer appointment, shares have hovered around $3.50 in recent weeks.

(Reporting by Gerry Shih. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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