Zynga CEO Defends IPO, Corporate Culture

Mark Pincus

Mark Pincus' Zynga has 232 million monthly active players for games including "Mafia Wars."

Mark Pincus, the head of the social gaming giant, also discusses potential opportunities in online gambling.

NEW YORK - Social gaming powerhouse Zynga can be happy with its IPO, even though its stock has lingered below its offer price, CEO Mark Pincus told the Wall Street Journal in an interview that also saw him defend the Silicon Valley company's corporate culture.

Zynga, the company behind such Facbeook games as Mafia Wars, FarmVille and CityVille, went public in mid-December, with its stock price falling 5 percent on the first trading day. It has since been lingering below its $10 offering price.

"Our goals were we want to raise a billion dollars," Pincus told the Journal when asked about that performance. "Through going public, we wanted to add some more great long-term investors to the company. All of that was successful."

He also shrugged off the suggestion that his company may have entered the market at the wrong time. "We were trying to go public at the right point in our company growth, and we thought that was the right point," he explained.

Asked about Zynga's corporate culture, which some have described as fiercely competitive, Pincus said: "The average Silicon Valley [attrition rate] is 14 percent, and we've run a little over 3 percent attrition. I think that's a good sign of employees liking the company and the culture."

The Journal also asked the Zynga boss about his decision to renegotiate the stock compensation of select early employees.

"In four isolated incidents, we outgrew senior leaders and we wanted to find them another position at the company versus just parting ways," Pincus said. "In two of those four cases, those people are at the company and they're wonderful executives and contributors who have found other opportunities to lead, and so I'm really happy."

The Department of Justice recently changed its position on online gambling, which could provide opportunities for Zynga. Asked about the issue, Pincus said; "We're watching it with interest. Virtual reality is about the connection between the virtual and the real, and there's just such a close and perfect connection between the virtual and the real when you're gambling, because these chips have real world value."

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai