Some significant changes afoot at social and mobile games company Digital Chocolate: founder Trip Hawkins has stepped down as the CEO of the company. And we have also heard a report — yet to be confirmed directly by the company — that president Marc Metis has stepped up as interim CEO; and that Digital Chocolate has laid off up to 180 people across offices in India, San Mateo, Russia and elsewhere.
Hawkins’ news was made public by Trip himself in his company blog, where he notes that he is “transitioning into a consulting and advisory relationship with Digital Chocolate.” Without giving away much about the state of affairs at the company, the move, he writes, is being made as the company is “narrowing its focus.”
“It made sense to get more streamlined,” he explains. Hawkins founded the company eight years ago.
By coincidence, the news comes at the same time that Hawkins is marking the 30th anniversary of Electronic Arts, another gaming company that he founded: he incorporated that company on May 28, 1982. Before that he worked at Apple, which he joined in 1978, when it only had 25 employees.
Trip’s LinkedIn profile now notes his employment as “computer games professional” with CEO, Digital Chocolate, as a past position.
Meanwhile, Marc Metis, who we have heard is now the interim CEO, still lists president of the company as his most current job on LinkedIn. He has been with Digital Chocolate since 2009 and has held other roles such as head of marketing.
Layoffs. Again, we have yet to get confirmation from Digital Chocolate on the 180-layoff figure — we have reached out and will update with any detail we receive — but our tipster says that the cuts are as follows: half the staffs of both the Bangalore and San Mateo offices; the closure of Digital Chocolate’s Mexicali office, an office in Armenia and Sandlot offices in Bothell, Washington, and St. Petersburg. (Digital Chocolate bought Sandlot in August 2011.)
Digital Chocolate has had nearly $60 million in funding to date, with backers including Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers; Sequoia; and Intel, among others. And in its eight years, it’s had a number of hits both in social gaming (eg Facebook) and in mobile, on iOS and other platforms.
But lately traffic has fallen. In social games, Zynga, ranked number-one, has 247 million MAUs, according to AppData. In comparison, Digital Chocolate ranks significantly lower, at number-61, with 6.3 million MAUs. Galaxy Life is Digital Chocolate’s most popular social game at the moment, with 1.7 million MAUs and 310k DAUs. Traffic for its games overall is falling, down 470,000 in the last seven days.
Update. Still no word direct from Digital Chocolate, but a bittersweet tweet from the (former?) manager of the company’s Mexico office, Francisco Casanova, who also claims “the doors have closed” for Digital Chocolate Mexico: