Zynga COO Jumps Ship--Trouble Ahead?

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Steve Anderson
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Zynga COO Jumps Ship--Trouble Ahead?

In general, there are things you don't want to hear, especially when it comes to a company that's recently launched an IPO. "Lawsuit" is one of them. "Investigation" is another. Today, Zynga seems to have landed another key point when it comes to dark phrases in a post-IPO framework, specifically, "The COO's leaving.".

COO John Schappert announced his departure earlier today, effective immediately. The resignation announcement came less than one week after it was discovered that Schappert's duties as COO would no longer include oversight of game quality, and that led to his departure. CEO Mark Pincus referred to Schappert as "a friend of the company" and they wished him "all the best".

Considering the string of disasters slamming into Zynga of late--EA plans to sue them over their title The Ville, which EA calls remarkably similar to their title The Sims Social, and other lawsuits over the company's performance were also poised for launch--Schappert's departure has some interesting timing to it. Needless to say, plenty have looked at the situation and promptly compared it to the behavior of large vermin when confronted with a vessel heading below the waterline, and this may not be too far off.

Schappert, at last report, was the former COO for Electronic Arts, and given that EA is about to lay into Zynga with the full force of its lawyer brigade, chances are Schappert didn't want to be around when the fecal matter hit the rotary impeller. It's important to note that, at last report, Schappert left Zynga with just eight months left on his contract. Yet it's equally important to point out that some sources, like the L.A. Times, actually say he didn't leave, so much as he was tossed out, so the exact nature of Schappert's departure is somewhat unclear. Still, the motive behind it does have a fairly reasonable, if only possible, explanation in the form of the upcoming suit with EA.

Regardless, these are clearly not good times for Zynga, and there will likely be plenty of tunnel left before the light at the end appears.
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