Chief Creative Officer Mike Verdu Leaves Zynga To Found New, Zynga-Backed Startup

Zynga announced today that Chief Creative Officer Mike Verdu will leave the company after three years to lead his own startup. This might raise questions for some investors, as Verdu has been a driving force behind Zynga’s success over the years.

But, it’s not a complete separation. Zynga will “be on the ground floor” and be an investor in Verdu’s new startup. His new company has not yet been announced.

“Mike has been a good friend to me personally as well as professionally, and has been an influential creative leader to us all,” Zynga CEO and founder Mark Pincus said. “I’m proud of the legacy that Mike has helped build and the deep bench of creative talent and leaders who will carry the torch and shape the next wave of creativity at Zynga.”

“During my three years at Zynga, I’ve seen the company grow from a small, scrappy start-up on the frontier of interactive entertainment to a large, world-class organization with 20 development studios around the world and a deep well of amazing talent,” Verdu said. “Being at Zynga in the early days reminded me of how much I love being an entrepreneur. After a lot of soul-searching, I have decided to go back to my roots and start a new company.”

Update: AllThingsD is reporting that Verdu is starting his own game company and that Zynga “will be the publisher of his games on its third-party platform.” Verdu did not disclose the name of the new company.