A skeptical view of Zynga's new CEO, Om Malik explains

Om Malik posts on GigaOm on his views of Zynga's move to add a new CEO to solve its problems.  Om explains his logic and starts off questioning the PR spin.


Zynga has hired Don Mattrick as its new CEO, replacing founder Mark Pincus. The stock has jumped almost 20 percent in two days. Everyone believes that things will get better — that is, everyone except me. Let me explain why I don’t buy the PR spin.

Om throws some zingers like the new CEO doesn't know mobile.

The glowing press releases not withstanding, Zynga isn’t any step closer to solving its number one challenge — mobile. The company’s business tactics, which worked dramatically well on the Facebook platform, don’t work as well on mobile. And frankly, what does Mattrick really know about mobile? For God’s sake, the guy ran Xbox for six years.

Zynga was built on the Facebook ecosystem which limits its ability to grow beyond.

From the very beginning Zynga has been a company optimized for short-term gains. It used the well-established pattern of super fast release, iterate, re-release to grow its games. That pattern of developing and releasing games works well on the web. Of course, that means sub-par creativity and leads to the short shelf life of a game. Of course, this resulted in a business logic — user acquisition channels, game development methods and technology stack — were optimized for one platform: Facebook. The company rewarded teams that build Facebook hits.

We'll see what Zynga looks like in a year, but that is an eternity in the game business.

It is so pervasive and embedded that unless Mattrick undertakes a company wide apheresis he is destined to fail. And with Pincus still as the chairman and chief product officer, you know nothing really has changed.