Zynga NY studio chief leaves after mobile games disappointment

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 02, 2013 4:53 PM
Zynga NY studio chief leaves after mobile games disappointment

By Gerry Shih

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The head of Zynga Inc's New York studio has left the social gaming company a year after its $180 million purchase of his mobile game start-up failed to produce the expected results.

Dan Porter, the former chief executive of OMGPOP, will be succeeded by Sean Kelly, an executive formerly in charge of Zynga's smash hit "CityVille," the company said in a statement on Tuesday. Zynga's New York office focuses on developing games for mobile devices, a top priority for the company.

Zynga did not say where Porter, who was vice president and general manager of Zynga's New York operations, would go next.

Porter joined Zynga last March when it bought OMGPOP, known for its popular Pictionary-like game, "Draw Something," in its largest acquisition to date. His departure comes shortly before the highly anticipated global launch of the sequel, "Draw Something 2."

"Draw Something" began losing users soon after Zynga's purchase and OMGPOP struggled to replicate its previous success, leading Wall Street analysts to question the deal.

OMGPOP's integration into Zynga was challenging in other ways. Porter, a colorful and outspoken executive, publicly apologized to his Zynga colleagues last month after Quartz, a business news website, quoted him as saying that the company copies other publishers' games.

Zynga eventually wrote off $95 million in relation to OMGPOP last fall.

Despite Porter's rocky tenure, Colin Sebastian, an analyst at R.W. Baird, said Zynga's OMGPOP purchase helped signal the company's shifting emphasis toward mobile game development.

"I certainly can't say that he has been able to string together a long line of hit titles, but that's not necessarily his fault," Sebastian said. "In bringing some of that mobile perspective to Zynga and at least one key game, that mission was accomplished even if the price tag was deemed to be very pricy."

Zynga's stock plummeted 80 percent in 2012 from a high of $12.90 last March, but has rebounded in recent months. The shares fell 2 percent to $3.09 late Tuesday.

(Reporting by Gerry Shih; Editing by Richard Chang)