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Is Another Management Shake-Up Enough to Save Zynga?

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Time is running out for struggling social game maker Zynga (NASDAQ: ZNGA  ) to turn things around. It's only been a month since Don Mattrick took over as Zynga's CEO. However, the ex-Microsoft executive is already shaking things up at the top.

Shares of Zynga were up more than 2% on Wednesday following news that the game developer will say goodbye to three top executives to include Chief Technology Officer Cadir Lee, Chief People Officer Colleen McCreary, and, perhaps most notably, Chief Operations Officer David Ko. While it's nice to see Mattrick making bold moves only a month into his tenure, I'm not sure this merits further upside for the stock.

Deja vu
I'd like nothing more than for Mattrick to revive Zynga, particularly since it's one of my worst stock picks to date. Unfortunately, it's going to take more than a management shuffle to get this game maker back on track. After all, the company has been down this road before. At the time , the company's CEO Marc Pincus said, "I'm confident we have the right team to deliver on our mission of connecting the world through games and position us for long-term growth."

As we know, that didn't work out for them. So what's different this time around? One obvious difference: Mattrick is now at the helm of this floundering ship. As the former president of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment business, Mattrick isn't a stranger to the business of gaming. During Mattrick's reign at Microsoft's Xbox division, the Xbox 360 installed base grew from 10 million to nearly 80 million worldwide while Xbox Live membership increased from 6 million to nearly 50 million. . 

If Mattrick can do that at Zynga, the social gaming company might actually have a fighting chance. For its second quarter, active monthly users plummeted to 187 million from 306 million a year ago. The company also posted a net loss of $16 million in the quarter and a 31% year-over-year decline in revenue.

It's game time
Shares of Zynga have lost 71% of their value since the company went public two years ago. Therefore, winning back investor confidence won't be easy, and it will certainly take more than rearranging management. Zynga needs to prove that its free-to-play business model isn't inherently flawed.

Unfortunately, this will be an even tougher sell now that the company has ditched efforts to offer online gambling in the U.S . Investors were excited about Zynga's potential move into real-money online gaming, particularly after the company's harsh transition to mobile. As of last month, only 27% of Zynga's bookings were from mobile. With gamers now spending more time on mobile devices than on computers, mobile gaming is critical to Zynga's success.

Sadly, downsizing is the only thing Zynga appears to do well these days. Given the many headwinds this company faces, I don't think new leadership at the top is enough to stop the bleeding.

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Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (4)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2013, at 11:06 PM, MARKAAA wrote:

    ZNGA is going to be just fine regardless of subjective non material objective news articles.

    ZNGA has zero debt and over one billion in cash!

    ZNGA will likely be bought-out at a good price so figure at least 400% trading range from here when that happens.

    I always get a kick out of it when a company trading at a huge discount with good things going on, zero debt and at least several hundred million in cash gets bashed as if it is going out of business and this company has over a billion in cash so doubt anyone need worry the next couple years!


  • Report this Comment On August 16, 2013, at 1:10 AM, Bunnyking77 wrote:

    I've speculated that MS will buy Zynga but what does it really have to offer?


    Plus Don Mattrick did wonders for the XBOXone, that is why it is flip flopping about like a fish out of water.

  • Report this Comment On August 16, 2013, at 2:17 AM, Texasrecurve wrote:

    ---------During Mattrick's reign at Microsoft's Xbox division, the Xbox 360 installed base grew from 10 million to nearly 80 million worldwide while Xbox Live membership increased from 6 million to nearly 50 million--------

    Bunny, do you have math on your planet?

  • Report this Comment On August 16, 2013, at 2:42 AM, spinod wrote:

    Literally everything Mattrick did at Microsoft has been reversed in the past month. If Microsoft doesn't like his ideas, how will he save a company that was nothing more than a fad to begin with?

  • Report this Comment On August 16, 2013, at 1:06 PM, chic186 wrote:

    Zynga will be fine they steal from the customers that play the games. Buy game cash only to have that go missing two or three times a year. Have that happen to 1,000s of customers it adds up to a lot of stolen money. Contact zynga they tell you they cant verify your loss sorry we cant help. Liars and thieves all of them.

  • Report this Comment On August 16, 2013, at 1:30 PM, MonkeyCMonkeyDoo wrote:

    Zynga has been laying off loads of employees yet it keeps it's ridiculous level of benefits, including superfluous things like flowers for employees' "zyngaversaries". i think employees would rather have jobs than flowers, no? they never stopped acting like a privately held company. i've worked with some of their top execs before and this bullish short-sightedness is not surprising

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