Zynga Names David Lee CFO, As Longtime Exec Mark Vranesh Departs The Firm

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Today after the bell, Zynga announced that its CFO and CAO Mark Vranesh will depart the firm after six years, and that David Lee will assume both roles effective April 14. Vranesh will help out for a month to, in the words of Zynga, “ensure a seamless transition.”

According to Zynga, Vranesh made the choice to vacate his role toward the end of 2013, making today’s announcement less of a surprise.

Zynga, a social and mobile gaming company, will report its earnings just over a week after the date of the CFO transition, April 23rd. Given that the passing of the baton will take place before that date, Zynga’s CEO Don Mattrick made a few general, if positive, comments on the now-past first quarter. This was likely an effort to calm investors who might have read the change in leadership as indicative of either weak results or accounting issues:

“I am pleased with the progress we have made so far this year against our strategic frame of growing and sustaining our franchises, creating new hits and driving efficiencies. The year is off to a solid start and our teams have created a strong base for growth throughout 2014. We look forward to sharing details about our results and financial performance during our upcoming first quarter earnings announcement.”

Given rules surrounding what a company can say before earnings, I’ll leave that to you to parse. Still, as far as expectations-setting goes, it’s hardly negative.

In the fourth quarter of 2013, the most recent reported quarter, Zynga posted revenue of $311 million, a net loss of $48.6 million, and non-GAAP earnings per share of 1 cent. Those figures bested expectations, and Zynga’s share rose in after-hours trading following the release.

Zynga’s stock has risen since Mattrick took the reins of the company last summer, leaving Microsoft for the smaller gaming company. Zynga traded for around $2.80 when Mattrick was hired, and now sits around $4.09, having spiked to as high as $5.79 before experiencing a broad selloff. That recent decline, however, is in line with slippage that a number of other technology stocks such as Twitter have endured, falling from late 2013 and early 2014 highs to more modest valuations.

Lee was mostly recently the senior vice president of finance for Best Buy, and has also held finance roles at Del Monte and strategic roles at PG&E. Lee doesn’t appear to be a games guy. But perhaps Zynga has enough of those, and instead needs someone who has more experience in the trenches helping to turn around businesses of varying types.

Zynga was steeply down in regular trading, falling more than 6.5 percent.

IMAGE BY FLICKR USER Sabrina Dent UNDER CC BY 2.0 LICENSE (IMAGE HAS BEEN CROPPED)