Zynga Adds KPCB’s John Doerr To Its Board Of Directors

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Zynga, the social games company that is now expanding its business into real-money online gambling, is today announcing a new heavyweight on its board of directors: John Doerr, a general partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Doerr also sits on the boards of a number of other tech companies, including Coursera, Flipboard and Google. He will join existing Zynga board members William “Bing” Gordon (also at KPCB), Reid Hoffman, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Stanley J. Meresman, Sunil Paul, CEO Mark Pincus, Ellen F. Siminoff and Owen Van Natta.

zynga-logoKPCB was one of Zynga’s biggest VC backers before it went public in December 2011, with Doerr leading those investments. It’s unclear exactly how much of Zynga is now owned by Kleiner but BI puts it at 10%.

Doerr always held the company and founder and CEO Mark Pincus in very high regard. In 2010, when Zynga was still a private company, he once described it as the “most rapidly growing, most profitable, with the most happy customers that Kleiner Perkins has ever backed.”

Adding a board member who has been a supporter of the company from its pre-IPO heyday — and a pretty legendary one at that — sends a message of continuity and support to both staff and investors at a time when Zynga trying to turn itself around into revenue growth.

“John has been a supporter of Zynga since our early days, and truly understands our core values and mission,” said Pincus in a statement. “John has worked with some of the most well-known companies in the world at every stage imaginable and his experience helping teams innovate at scale will be a tremendous asset for our leadership team. I’m personally looking forward to working closer with John, a true pioneer in the consumer internet space, and welcoming him to the board as a trusted advisor through this pivotal, transition year. John inspired us all to pursue creating internet treasures. He is a true missionary and will deepen and strengthen our DNA.”

Doerr will bring significant expertise in helping Zynga build itself out in the next stage of its life as a sustainable digital content business, with the emphasis on gaming on more platforms and in more guises.

“In just five years Zynga has connected hundreds of millions of people to their friends for fun. What’s exciting is this is still day zero – just the beginning — of social gaming’s potential,” said Doerr. “With its deep talent and multi-platform technology, and millions of happy customers, Zynga will engage more of us wherever we play – whether on the web, phones or tablets. I’m excited about working with Mark and the Zynga team in its next chapters of growth.”

Zynga blew up in its startup days, riding the wave of social gaming that came with the rapid growth of Facebook to pick up hundreds of millions of users. But since going public, the company has fallen on more difficult times. A lot more competition on the social gaming landscape, and changing public tastes, have resulted in a number of games and studio closures for the company amid disappointing revenues and cost-reduction strategies, and its stock price dropping nearly 64% since first going public.

farmville slotThat has also driven Zynga to turn to games that might generate better profits, such as real-money gambling. Its first efforts in that area went live this week in the UK, with the plan being to extend that to other markets in Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere as regulations and partnerships allow.

Those efforts have so far had an immediate boost for the company’s stock price, seeing it jump some $0.40 on the news on Wednesday, although that enthusiasm seemed to have died down a bit by the end of Thursday. Meanwhile, the company is slowly levelling out its wider business. Last quarter it reported flat revenues of $311 million, but that also beat market expectations.

Full release below.

ZYNGA APPOINTS JOHN DOERR TO BOARD OF DIRECTORS

SAN FRANCISCO – April 5, 2013 – Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA), the world’s leading social game developer, announced today that John Doerr, General Partner of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, joined the company’s board of directors.

“John has been a supporter of Zynga since our early days, and truly understands our core values and mission,” said Mark Pincus, CEO and Founder, Zynga. “John has worked with some of the most well-known companies in the world at every stage imaginable and his experience helping teams innovate at scale will be a tremendous asset for our leadership team. I’m personally looking forward to working closer with John, a true pioneer in the consumer internet space, and welcoming him to the board as a trusted advisor through this pivotal, transition year. John inspired us all to pursue creating internet treasures. He is a true missionary and will deepen and strengthen our DNA.”

“In just five years Zynga has connected hundreds of millions of people to their friends for fun. What’s exciting is this is still day zero – just the beginning — of social gaming’s potential,” said John Doerr, General Partner,Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. “With its deep talent and multi-platform technology, and millions of happy customers, Zynga will engage more of us wherever we play – whether on the web, phones or tablets. I’m excited about working with Mark and the Zynga team in its next chapters of growth.”

Doerr joined KPCB in 1980, and has backed some of the world’s most successful companies, including Google Inc. (GOOG),Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) and Intuit Inc. (INTU). His passion is helping entrepreneurs create the “next big thing.” John currently serves on the boards of several Internet technology companies, including Coursera, Flipboard and Google.

Doerr started his technology career in 1974 at Intel, and later founded Silicon Compilers, a VLSI CAD software company, and co-founded @Home, the nationwide broadband cable Internet service. Outside of KPCB, Doerr supports NewSchools.org,TechNet.org, the Climate Reality Project andONE.org.

Doerr joins Zynga’s distinguished board members: William “Bing” Gordon, Reid Hoffman, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Stanley J. Meresman, Sunil Paul, Mark Pincus, Ellen F. Siminoff and Owen Van Natta.