What Zynga’s Management Shake-Up Under New CEO Mattrick Means

Just a month and a half after he was announced as the new CEO of Zynga, former Microsoft executive Don Mattrick is cleaning house. He restructured the top level of management in a move that will see COO David Ko, CTO Cadir Lee and Chief People Officer Colleen McCreary leave.

Mattrick explained the move, saying that senior executives could work more directly with product. He said in a memo today, “We are taking layers out of the executive rank to get senior leaders closer to important product initiatives.”

Lee and McCreary are very, very long-time Zynga executives who have been with the company for more than four years and have a complicated history. Lee was close with co-founder, former CEO and now chairman and chief product officer Mark Pincus, while McCreary was infamously associated with a brouhaha over how Zynga was attempting to claw back equity from employees.

Ko joined the company more recently from Yahoo. He had started off overseeing Zynga’s mobile efforts, then was promoted to chief operating officer later after former COO John Schappert resigned. When Ko had talked to us in previous calls, he emphasized that Zynga was simplifying its slate of games and re-evaluating prospective titles in the pipeline, which has led to an intentionally thinner set of launches this and next quarter and lower revenues. While he has a reputation as savvy political operator, he lacked the years of direct experience in game development that many other longtime Zynga managers have had.

Mattrick also said the changes should embolden studio leads to take more initiative on product and game decisions. There are now three overall divisions: 1) studios, 2) technology, live ops and publishing and 3) functional areas covering legal, finance and human resources.

One observer said that the changes with studio leadership effectively put everyone in a horse race where they’re more transparently and directly responsible for the performance of their units. In about two quarters, it should be obvious who is underperforming and who is not.

The studios are getting consolidated with Steve Chiang overseeing the Villes and International, which could be interpreted as a demotion since it doesn’t include FarmVille. Meanwhile, Tim LeTourneau, who successfully oversaw the launch of Farmville 2, gets to continue to oversee Zynga’s crown jewel franchise. Travis Boatman, a longtime EA Mobile executive who joined Zynga under Schappert’s tenure, also continues to oversee mobile titles that fall under the “With Friends” brand. Barry Cottle, who was chief revenue officer, is now overseeing social casino games like Zynga Poker.  Steve Parkis gets to oversee Zynga’s very nascent foray into midcore gaming, where it faces a ton of competitors like Kabam, Kixeye and Supercell. Mark Skaggs will presumably continue to handle new game launches as senior vice president of games, while John Tien will also serve as a senior vice president of games in casual genres.

With the second division covering tech, live ops and publishing, Nick Tornow will be CTO, while Dorion Carroll will be CIO. Adam Sussman oversees Zynga’s game publishing efforts, which are still very young after former lead Rob Dyer quit in June.

The last division covers functional areas and Reggie Davis will serve as General Counsel and executive vice president of legal, corporate and business affairs. Mark Vranesh continues as CFO while Meg Makalou will be the vice president of human resources.

Here’s Mattrick’s memo:

Over the past month, I have had a chance to interact with a cross section of our employees and have been able to get a general sense of the caliber of people working here, the passion for winning and desire to get Zynga back to a strong leadership. Zynga is an amazing company and has tremendous potential for future growth. Thank you for taking the time to share your stories and business, as well as your creative and technical insights with me. On a personal level, I feel privileged to be the CEO and am more aware than ever before that the time for us to decisively move forward is now.

In parallel to these meetings, I have been working with our leaders to review different parts of our business in order to develop a set of operating principles to help reset the company. We are now calibrating against the market opportunity and developing detailed plans to achieve topline growth and improve profitability in the future.

To support the above, we are announcing today a number of changes to our organization.

We are taking layers out of the executive rank to get senior leaders closer to important product initiatives. With that in mind, I have asked the leaders to sharpen their focus and properly densify talent to resource teams.

Our studios leaders include Steve Chiang EVP Games, Villes and International, Barry Cottle, EVP Games, Social Casino, Travis Boatman, SVP Games, With Friends and Network, Tim LeTourneau, SVP Games, FarmVille, Steve Parkis, SVP Games, Midcore, Mark Skaggs, SVP Games, and Jon Tien, SVP Games, Casual.

Tech, live ops and publishing includes Nick Tornow, CTO, VP, Dorion Carroll, CIO, VP, and Adam Sussman, SVP Game Publishing (which includes distribution, direct advertising sales and ops).

Our functional area leaders are Reggie Davis, General Counsel, EVP Legal, Corporate and Business Affairs (which includes Corporate and Business Development and Communications), Mark Vranesh, CFO, EVP, and Meg Makalou, VP Human Resources.

These leaders will report to me and form our new executive team with immediate effect.

As part of the change, Cadir Lee, Colleen McCreary, and David Ko will be leaving the company to pursue other interests.  Each person has contributed to the growth of Zynga and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Cadir Lee for his dedication in the creation of a world class technical organization during his 5 year tenure, Colleen for her work with our recruitment and people process over the last 4 years and David Ko for the 3 years that he spent in leading various teams across the organization. We appreciate their contributions to Zynga’s first chapter and wish them well in their future endeavors.

With the above in place, I believe that we will have the best chance to grow, build a world class executive team and culture, establish cadence and really become committed to important priorities and opportunities for our long term success.

I look forward to sharing more detail and answering your questions at tomorrow’s All-Hands meeting.