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Zynga's Mark Pincus deemed year's 4th worst CEO

An annual list of the worst CEOs of 2012 gives the head of the embattled game maker another reason to wish for this year to end.

Charles Cooper Former Executive Editor / News
Charles Cooper was an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet.
Charles Cooper
2 min read
Zynga CEO Mark Pincus Rafe Needleman/CNET

Given the annus horribilis which was Zynga's 2012, it's understandable if Zynga's Mark Pincus can't wait until 2013 rolls around. Meanwhile, the hits just keep on coming -- the latest indignity being an annual list of the business world's lousiest CEOs where Pincus was rated the fourth worst corporate leader. No. 1 was Brian Dunn, who resigned in April from Best Buy, followed by Chesapeake Energy's Aubrey McClendon, and Avon's former boss Andrea Jung, who left her post in April.

The list, which began three years ago, was put out by Sydney Finkelstein, a professor at Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business. In a piece published today on the Washington Post site, Finkelstein described 2012 as "a disastrous one for Pincus." Specifically, he said:

His company's shares are down about 70 percent this year, there has been a big exodus of top executive talent, and Pincus spearheaded a pricey $180 million acquisition that forced a writedown of 50 percent of the purchase price within months. Zynga has relied almost entirely on Facebook for distribution of its games, the type of dependence no future-minded CEO would want. The recent announcement that both companies have freed themselves to create new partnerships highlights the vulnerability of this strategy. Finally, Pincus sidestepped lockout provisions to unload millions of shares, a controversial move but perhaps a sign of what he thought about the company's prospects.

After Zynga raised $1 billion in its initial public offering last December, the company's shares are down more than 80 percent since March.The stock closed today at $2.38 compared with its 52-week high of $15.91.