Dan Porter, who led Draw Something-maker OMGPOP into its $180 million acquisition by Zynga, is leaving the company just a year after the deal closed. His departure comes just on the eve of Draw Something 2’s launch, which is supposed to be the big follow-up to the original and is already live in Sweden.
“Developing and launching games is a team effort, and we’re proud of the great work the Zynga New York team has done with Draw Something 2,” said Zynga COO David Ko in a statement. “Our follow up to the original hit is even more social and engaging, and we’re excited to get it into the hands of our players globally. We thank Dan Porter for his efforts in making the Draw Something franchise a success and wish him well in his future endeavors.”
It’s another blow for Zynga’s buzziest and most expensive acquisition to date. Ko and Porter are pictured above smiling almost exactly one year ago, just after the acquisition closed. Basically, it sounds like it wasn’t a cultural fit on both sides and that the decision was mutual.
Porter has always been very candid — maybe too candid — for Zynga’s comfort. Just a few weeks ago, Porter had to issue a public apology for implying that Zynga copies games. This is a sensitive issue for Zynga as it tries to manage its reputation so it can attract creative talent in a very competitive market and third-party developers for its publishing program.
“I am sorry that my actions have reflected negatively and generated negative press for the company,” he said in a statement posted to Zynga’s company blog just under a month ago. “I’m also sorry if anyone on the game creation side felt that my comments were somehow a discredit to their work.”
Two sources told us Zynga CEO Mark Pincus demanded that he apologize or that he would be fired. Again, even though Porter did apologize, his departure seems to be a mutual decision. When Zynga acquired OMGPOP, it was for $180 million in cash and $30 million in retention.
Longtime Zynga general manager Sean Uberoi Kelly is stepping in for Porter. He’s the vice president of mobile, has been at the company for four years, and led the launch of CityVille, which grabbed 100 million players in less than 30 days when it came out.
Draw Something 2 is designed to be a lot stickier than the original. We’re hearing that players will get to hold onto their drawings and save and share them in something that resembles much more of a social network than a game.
We’ve reached out to Porter for comment.