Worst CEO of the Year, Final Round: Zynga vs. Chesapeake Energy

Following eight straight weeks of profiling the worst of the worst CEOs, and two rounds of actual community voting, it's time to unveil which two CEOs have moved on to the final and still have a shot at being named the worst CEO in 2012.

The methodology behind the voting is simple. Similar to an NCAA-style basketball bracket, the original eight CEOs were pitted into four matchups two weeks ago that the community had one week to vote on. Last week we released the results of the previous week's voting, and the remaining four CEOs were again bracketed for voting. This week we're unveiling last week's results and bracketing the top two CEOs for a final round of voting, in which the winner will be announced at the beginning of December.

As you can see, the ball really is in your court and you do have a say in who merits the dubious title of The Motley Fool's chosen worst CEO of the year. Below the voting bracket I've included a recap of last week's voting, as well as a quick synopsis of this week's matchup; however, I encourage you to revisit the nomination articles for a more complete explanation of why that particular CEO was nominated for this award.

Last week's recap:

  • Zynga (NASDAQ: ZNGA  ) outduels Groupon (NASDAQ: GRPN  ) in the battle of social media inferiority: This was a battle that I truly expected could swing either way given that both companies are down well over 80% from their highs. In the end, by a vote of 58% to 42%, our community members decided that Zynga's executive exodus and Mark Pincus' inability to drive paying customers to its games through Facebook (NASDAQ: FB  ) were worse than Groupon's multiple accounting snafus and puny profits.
  • Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK  ) creams Best Buy (NYSE: BBY  ) : In the battle of CEO excess, between McClendon's questionable dealings as detailed in numerous Reuters articles and Dunn's relationship with a former intern, the Motley Fool community determined by a vote of 65% to 35% to move Aubrey McClendon on to the next round. In the end, Chesapeake's missteps appear to have outweighed Best Buy's multiple big-box flubs.

Final matchup: Zynga vs. Chesapeake Energy
Here we have it, folks... the worst of the worst in 2012. On one side we have Zynga's Mark Pincus, who's helmed the social media gaming company while a slew of executives have left it for better farms. Zynga began the year with relatively few paying customers and appears likely to end the year with even fewer. Highly dependent on Facebook to generate revenue and with a ridiculously overpriced buyout of OMGPOP on its books, Zynga's made some very poor choices in 2012. Pincus, on the other hand, cashed out a good chunk of his holdings long before Zynga's stock imploded.

Facing Pincus will be Chesapeake's Aubrey McClendon, perhaps the most self-serving CEO among the eight nominees listed this year. McClendon has been implicated by Reuters for running a $200 million hedge fund from 2004 to 2008 that traded in the same commodities that Chesapeake produced, and has been a symbol of corporate excess based on Chesapeake's private jet usage and sponsorship of the Oklahoma City Thunder. In addition to risky personal investments that led to a whopping $552 million margin call in 2008 that forced him to liquidate much of his personal stock holdings, McClendon borrowed $1.1 billion from three third-party institutions, of which one had been a personal financier of Chesapeake. While not a direct conflict of interest, this was a poor act of corporate governance.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the worst CEO of them all? You tell us by voting below!

Check back for results
Be sure to check back next week, when we unveil the results of the final round of voting to help determine who is The Motley Fool's choice for worst CEO of 2012.

Is Zynga's executive exodus a warning sign that the social gaming company has no long-term potential, or will it innovate its way out of its most recent mess? Get the answer to this question and much more by getting your copy of our latest premium research report on Zynga. Packed with in-depth analysis on the opportunities and threats facing Zynga -- and complete with a year of regular updates -- this report will give you the tools needed to make smart long-term decisions. Click here to learn more.


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