In a memo sent to the company’s employees, CEO Don Mattrick said Dugan will be “a true catalyst for creative thinking at Zynga.” As highlighted at the recent Google I/O developer conference, Dugan’s team is working on projects like a temporary electronic tattoo that can unlock your smartphone. (She described the group as “pirates trying to do epic shit.”)
Before joining Google/Motorola Mobility, Dugan served as director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as DARPA — she was the agency’s first female leader. Zynga’s press release highlights a bunch of media-related honors as well, but I’m partial to reporter Liz Gannes’ complimentary description: “Google’s Regina Dugan Is a Badass.”
The appointment follows the departure of LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg from Zynga’s board last month. Those departures meant that Zynga was no longer in compliance with a NASDAQ listing rule that required boards to have a majority of independent directors, as noted in a regulatory filing. With Dugan’s appointment, Zynga should be compliant again. There are now five independent directors (Dugan, Stanley J. Meresman, Sunil Paul, Ellen F. Smirnoff, and John Doerr, who is now the lead independent director). The other board members are founder and chairman Mark Pincus, Bing Gordon and Mattrick.
Dugan will chair the board’s nominating and governance committee and will also be a member of the product committee. In the release, she said:
I believe we need to play. Zynga is full of creative thinkers who embrace the power of play. Einstein famously stated that ‘combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought,’ and this spirit is embodied in Zynga’s products, which have brought new technology to games. Games that help people connect, share, rest and energize through play. I look forward to working with Don and the board on the company’s next chapter
Despite some high-profile struggles and layoffs, Zynga actually came in slightly ahead of analyst estimates in its most recent earnings report. At the time, it also announced that Pincus (who was replaced by Mattrick as CEO last year) would be stepping down from an operational role at the company.
Update: You can see the regulatory filing related to Dugan’s appointment here. The filing also mentions Mattrick vesting stock as a result of his first anniversary at the company, and a related stock sale “to satisfy the Company’s statutory tax withholding obligations in connection with the vesting of the [restricted stock units].”