Zynga's creative chief resigns to start new company

Mike Verdu is leaving the company to start another gaming firm, which will have financial backing from Zynga.

Mike Verdu Mike Verdu

Zynga Chief Creative Officer Mike Verdu announced his departure today. After three years at the game maker, he plans to lead his own game startup, in which Zynga will be an investor.

Verdu said in a company blog post that being at Zynga during its early days reminded him how much he loved being an entrepreneur.

"I'm very proud of my part in building this remarkable company, especially in growing and nurturing what has become a vibrant community of game designers, producers, and creative leaders," he wrote. "Now, however, it's time for me to try something new. After a lot of soul-searching, I have decided to go back to my roots and start a new company."

He did not reveal any details of the new venture.

In a statement, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus praised Verdu's work at the company and said, "Zynga will be on the ground floor" of Verdu's next venture as an investor in his company.

"Mike has been a good friend to me personally as well as professionally and has been an influential creative leader to us all," Pincus said in a statement. "I'm proud of the legacy that Mike has helped build and the deep bench of creative talent and leaders who will carry the torch and shape the next wave of creativity at Zynga."

Verdu joins a parade of executives departing recently from the struggling games maker. Zynga Chief Operating Officer John Schappert left the company earlier this month after he was replaced as head of the games division in a corporate restructuring.

He was followed by Ya-Bing Chu, a vice president in the company's mobile division, and Jeremy Strauser, a general manager. Erik Bethke, a general manager of Mafia Wars 2, and Alan Patmore, a general manager for CityVille, both publicly revealed their departure from the company last month.

San Francisco-based Zynga, which has been struggling to maintain user engagement, turned in disappointing second-quarter earnings last month, causing its stock price to nose-dive more than 40 percent. Its shares traded up 2 cents today to close at $3.08.

 

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